DNA testing leads to more efficient rice research

Bruce Schultz, Gould, Frances I.  |  12/7/2018 5:32:55 PM

Genetic marker technology is leading to a more efficient process for developing new varieties.

Recently, the technology was used at the H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station near Crowley to find a new gene for Cercospora resistance.

After three years of field testing, this gene appears to confer complete resistance in the materials in which it has been tested. The discovery and validation of this gene is a major component of graduate student Christopher Addison’s doctoral research.

“The discovery and validation of the new Cercospora gene is another tool we have in our efforts to breed improved varieties with enhanced disease resistance,” said Adam Famoso, LSU AgCenter rice breeder.

In addition to Cercospora, the rice breeding program has developed and validated DNA markers for multiple traits, such as plant height, grain shape, amylose, gel temperature, aroma, herbicide tolerance, pubescence and multiple blast resistance genes. The plants are grown in a greenhouse, then DNA is extracted from the plant tissue and tested to determine which lines contain the desired trait before anything is planted in the field. If the desired characteristics are found, the seed is planted in progeny rows.

“The breeding rows going into the field have a higher probability of having the desired characteristics for the traits we screen with markers,” Famoso said. “Over time this will allow us to focus more attention on yield and grain-quality traits in the later stages of the breeding program.”

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