Resilient Rice
  Research aims
Resilient Rice glasshouse

Researchers from the UK, USA and India, led by scientists at the University of York, are working on on a major four-year project which aims to develop new varieties of rice that will be more resistant to extremes of climate, so providing subsistence communities in India and elsewhere with more stable grain yields. Rice is the staple food for more than two billion people, but a quarter of global rice production – and 45 per cent in India – is in rain-fed environments. With climate change predicted to cause more droughts and flooding in the future, the challenge is to develop rice strains that are both drought and submersion tolerant.

The researchers are gathering valuable genetic information about variations in ancestral wild species of rice to identify beneficial segments of the genome that help plants survive drought and flood. These segments from ancestral rice genomes will then be bred into commercial rice varieties. In parallel, researchers in India are conducting field trials using hundreds of lines of a commercial elite variety of rice carrying different segments of chromosome DNA from wild ancestors to gauge how these different lines grow under challenging conditions in the field. The work also involves studies to identify and address the socio-economic barriers to adoption of new drought resistant varieties, as well as modelling the impact of new varieties on production of rice in the context of climate change.

By the end of the project the international team hope to produce improved varieties of rice that maintain their yield in environmentally challenging conditions such as drought or floods, and to have these new varieties accepted and adopted by local communities in rain-fed areas of India. They also hope to produce new breeding tools to enable rapid further development of new rice varieties by Indian researchers. The vision is that the benefits of the research reach those people who need them and would not only lead to improved food security for poorer subsistence farmers in India, but also help lift them out of poverty.

Resilient Rice image

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

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