Genetic markers help identify desirable rice traits

Frances Gould  |  5/31/2016 3:18:27 PM

Herry Utomo, LSU AgCenter molecular geneticist, has been working with genetic markers to identify desirable traits in the development of new rice varieties.

“We are working with the known markers we have for blast and quality traits as well as the aroma trait,” Utomo said.

He said work is ongoing to identify genes responsible for additional traits, such as grain chalk, translucence and dimension.

In addition, he is working to identify gene sequences that could increase protein levels in rice. He said lysine, one of the amino acids related to protein production in rice, is typically found in low levels in most rice genotypes.

“If we can enhance lysine, then we can enhance the protein level in general,” Utomo said.

He said a new approach is being made to genetically improve rice quality.

For new marker discoveries, the genetics of high quality rice is being genotyped and compared to lesser quality from mutations or selections. “It’s another way of applying a critical gene for the good qualities we need.”

With a new genotyping facility soon to be available at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station, these lines of work can further be accelerated.

Gretchen Zaunbrecher, research associate in Utomo’s lab, used the genetic marker for aroma to identify one line out of 465 headrows that had the desired trait of aroma for Clearfield Jazzman.

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