How To Increase Rice Yield? Make Stronger Hybrids

Using large-scale genomic mapping, researchers have analyzed over 10,000 rice lines to explore how cross-breeding produces better rice crops and higher yields.

AsianScientist (Sep. 13, 2016) – A large-scale genomic study of 10,000 rice lines has yielded clues to why hybrid rice crops show higher performance for a trait than both parents. The study findings were published in Nature.

Improvement of grain yield is an on-going effort in crop breeding to meet the demand of global food security. Heterosis offers an important strategy for crop breeding and is one of the most efficient ways to increase grain yield in many crops, including rice, maize and sorghum. However, the genetic cause of heterosis in crops has long been a puzzle.

The study team, led by Professor Han Bin and Professor Huang Xuehui at the Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, analyzed over 10,000 rice lines produced from 17 elite rice lines, mapping for yield-related traits and evaluating heterotic effects.

From the genomic and phenomic data, the researchers classified modern rice varieties into three major types, reflecting the major breeding systems. Within each group, they identified a few genomic regions and gene alleles from female parents linked to heterosis effects for improved yields, but found that these loci varied across the three groups.

Overall, the study authors found that the hybrids which gave overall improved yields resulted from an optimal combination of multiple yield-related components, information which may be useful for crop improvement programs, they say.

The article can be found at: Huang et al. (2016) Genomic Architecture of Heterosis for Yield Traits in Rice.


Source: Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
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