Varieties from Egypt, India, South Korea used in quest for salt-tolerant rice

Frances Gould, Schultz, Bruce  |  2/3/2014 9:58:54 PM

Dr. Prasantha Subudhi

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Dr. Prasanta Subudhi is continuing his efforts to develop salt-tolerant rice lines, using varieties from Egypt, India and South Korea where high salt levels in coastal areas are a problem.

Subudhi is crossing those varieties with varieties developed by the LSU AgCenter, including Cheniere, CL151, Bengal and Jupiter.

The progenies developed from those crosses are subjected to water with salt levels of 7,680 parts per million at seedling stage to see how well the rice plants survive under salt stress.

Subudhi said field testing remains in the future.

"It could be another four years," he said. "Growing a large number of plants is difficult in the greenhouse."

If plants are grown in test plots on an outdoor farm, like the station’s central farm, Subudhi said blackbirds eat most of the grains. "Not a single grain will be left," he said.

Subudhi said using LSU greenhouses on the campus in Baton Rouge also is expensive, since the university charges rent for the greenhouse space.

To make the crosses, Subudhi removes the anthers of the female parent in a cross to make sure the plants do not self-pollinate. This has to be done in the morning before the day’s peak time of flowering – to reduce the likelihood of accidental self-pollination. Then Subudhi cross-pollinates when plants are at their peak flowering time.

He repeats those rituals, coming to the greenhouse every day during the crossing season, which spreads for about 30 to 45 days.

Subudhi also is sequencing the parents of these crosses to discover the genes responsible for salt tolerance. Once that work is completed, he will have a better idea before a plant is mature if a line has the genetic makeup that imparts salt tolerance.

LSU AgCenter plant geneticist Dr. Prasantha Subudhi clips anthers from a rice plant in preparation for making crosses of different rice plants. In his efforts to develop a salt-tolerant line of rice, he is using germplasm from Egypt, India and South Korea to make crosses with varieties developed by the LSU AgCenter.

This article was published in the 2014 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report

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