DescriptionOne of KAUST's main area's of research is food security.In our rapidly populating world there are few more pressing areas of research than looking at helping improve rice production. This lecture looks at the latest genetic research aimed at help rice production worldwide. Demand for rice is expected to increase over the next several decades, but yields have been stagnating in recent years. New stress-tolerant varieties are needed to reduce yield gaps in farmers' fields. Rice is well adapted to wet, flood-prone climates. However, excessive rainfall often leads to complete inundation of the plants. Most rice varieties can tolerate only a few days of submergence, but a handful of farmers' traditional varieties were discovered that could tolerate two or more weeks of submergence. Submergence tolerance is conferred by the SUB1A gene in all the highly tolerant varieties. The gene was transferred by marker assisted backcrossing into widely grown varieties at the International Rice Research Institute, Philippines. National governments began officially approving the varieties in 2009, and by 2013 approximately 2 million ha were under cultivation. Under non-submerged conditions these tolerant cultivars have an average yield equal to the parent cultivars (6 tons/ha or more). Under submerged conditions of 7-14 days they have an average yield advantage of 1.5 tons/ha over intolerant cultivars in farmers' fields. Due to the increasing prevalence of submergence in lowland rice environments, SUB1 is gradually being incorporated into all varieties developed for lowland ecosystems at IRRI. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6651noi9tpqpahj/AAA7IqIGNHrU8sb_l_PjBvjxa?dl=0
David J. Mackill
David J. Mackill is a plant science manager with Mars Inc. and an adjunct professor in plant sciences at the University of California, Davis. Previously, he was a division head and principal scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, where he developed over 25 rice varieties and published research on the genetics of resistance to rice blast disease and submergence and drought tolerance. He and his colleagues identified a gene from traditional rice varieties that conferred tolerance to 2 weeks or more submergence. Over 3 million farmers have adopted the improved tolerant varieties since 2009. In addition to his leadership and research work, he has supervised the thesis research of 22 graduate students.
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