Progress made toward hybrid rice, but its still years away

Frances Gould  |  10/9/2013 7:39:09 PM

Workers at the LSU AgCenter’s Rice Research Station pull a rope over a plot of rice to produce a hybrid. The rope drags pollen from the pollinator lines to pollinate male-sterile lines.

Photo By: LSU AgCenter

Work on hybrid rice continues at the LSU AgCenter.

"I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of progress made in such a short period of time," said Dr. Steve Linscombe, LSU AgCenter regional director for southwestern Louisiana and director of its Rice Research Station.

Professor Weike Li of China is expected to return to the Rice Research Station and resume his hybrid work in 2012. Linscombe said Li had to fulfill an obligation on a hybrid rice project in the Philippines last year.

"He has committed to be with us for a prolonged period of time," Linscombe said.

While Li was gone, the hybrid project was in the hands of LSU AgCenter rice breeder Dr. Xueyan Sha.

"We had a very productive year," Linscombe said. "Sha made a number of test crosses for evaluations, and he fine-tuned a hybrid seed production system.

"All of these hybrids are still a bit taller than our varieties," Linscombe said.

The hybrid medium-grain line, LAH10, was included in Linscombe’s date-of-planting study that required different planting from late February until mid-June, and it was the highest yielding of anything in that study, Linscombe said. He said the line has a clear grain appearance, with very little chalk, and he hopes to have it evaluated by Louisiana rice mills.

"We’re still several years, maybe two or three, from something we can talk about as a potential hybrid," Linscombe said, however.

Sha said the yield advantage of LAH10 is a yield of 15-20 percent more than other lines in its first year of testing. The potential hybrid is about 10 inches taller than Cocodrie, he said, so it can have lodging issues.

The LSU AgCenter rice breeder said improvements were made in the supplemental pollination process to make it easier and quicker, as well as changing the row configuration to make harvest and segregation easier.

Sha said another hybrid line, LAH12, a long-grain rice, also shows promise.

In another 2011 development, Sha crossed Chinese male sterile lines with U.S. restorer lines. Of the 460 test crosses evaluated in 2011, 130 were harvested for further testing, Sha said, and some of them had yields significantly higher than LAH10.

Checkoff funds for this
project in 2011: $84,000

(This article was published in the 2012 Louisiana Rice Research Board Annual Report.)

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Please click on the links above to go to the Rice Research Board Reports home page, to go to the 2013 report, and to go to the PDF version of the 2012 report.

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