Researcher Rice Department of Thailand, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives
Disclosure: Disclosure information not submitted.
Drought stress is one of the major constraints limiting rice production in rainfed and poorly irrigated environments. Understanding and defining traits enhancing drought tolerance is therefore of considerable importance. This project has received funding from the Newton Fund Sustainable Rice Research Initiative that integrates leading rice researchers and breeders in Thailand, leading crop physiologists and root biologist at the Pennsylvania State University in the US and at the University of Nottingham in the UK and at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, and leading root modelers in the UK. This 3-Year Newton Fund project aims to improve drought stress tolerance in rice by developing Rhizo-rice, new rice lines that have root traits that permit them to have both improved soil exploration and more efficient water capture under drought conditions. We evaluated the benefits of Rhizo-rice lines in the field and recently developed high-throughput phenotyping platforms and computational simulation modeling to test hypotheses regarding root traits that improve drought tolerance. This project delivers the root ideotype, phenotypic and genotypic selection targets, and trained Thai scientists in methods to incorporate root traits in rice breeding programs. The results showed that rice varieties with larger xylems, high root cortical aerenchyma and low density of lateral roots would have a better capability to adapt to drought conditions. Genes conferring root traits were also identified which would be extremely beneficial for rice germplasm improvement for drought tolerant in the near future. The simulation modeling is being validated for improving its precision. Our results will have direct benefits for food security, as our team includes UK leaders in computational modeling, US leaders in root biology and crop physiology, Thai leaders in rice genomics and breeding, and partnership with IRRI, which deploys new technologies throughout the rice-growing world.