Resilient Rice

Unlocking ancient rice secrets to overcome rainfall extremes

Resilient Rice glasshouse

Rice is the staple food for over two billion people, but more rice is needed to feed a growing global population. A quarter of global rice production, rising to 45 per cent in India, is in rain-fed environments, so the challenge of producing more rice, is further complicated by climate change, which is predicted to cause more drought and flooding in the future.

Researchers from the UK, USA and India are working together to access valuable genetic information about variation in ancestral wild species of rice to try and identify beneficial segments of the genome that help plants survive drought. These small segments from ancestral rice genomes can then be transferred into commercial rice varieties by breeding.

In parallel, researchers in India are conducting field trials using hundreds of lines of rice carrying chromosome segments of DNA from wild varieties to see how different varieties grow. Using this field information, scientists back in the lab are studying the different varieties to build up a detailed genetic picture of what causes increased resistance to drought in specific lines of rice.

At the end of the four-year project the international team hope to produce improved drought tolerant rice varieties that are accepted and adopted by local communities in rain-fed areas of India, as well as new breeding tools to enable rapid further development of new rice varieties.

Resilient Rice image
Project video:
the project leader, Professor Ian Graham, talks about the project.
Project video


Judith Mitchell
Project Coordinator
Tel: +44 (0) 1904 328752

CNAP, Department of Biology
University of York, YORK
YO10 5DD, UK