Full steam ahead for better rice
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Plant breeders often cross different types of rice to produce hybrids with increased yields and other advantageous traits. Now a large research project co-led by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has dissected the genetic architecture underpinning this hybrid success.
In what’s been described by a prominent American plant geneticist as a “tour de force study in the field,” the scientists bred 17 elite rice lines together for two generations to produce more than 10,000 hybrid varieties. They characterized each new variety’s grain yield, flowering time and other commercially valuable characteristics, and then sequenced their genomes to map DNA regions linked to yield-related traits.
The China-based team pinpointed a small number of candidate genes that were responsible for much of the hybrid superiority. The findings, reported in Nature, could inform future strategies for crop improvement.
- Nature 537, 629–633 (2016). doi: 10.1038/nature19760