The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) said it is developing an analysis tool that would allow researchers to fast-track the breeding of new stress-tolerant rice varieties to help farmers cope with climate change.
PhilRice, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, said it will be releasing “soon” a database software called the Rice Integrative Genomics Workbench in Galaxy (RIGby).
“RIGby wil help generate economic data needed in developing new rice varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases and can withstand drought, flood, low temperature and salinity,” Dr. Reynante L. Ordonio, a PhilRice biotechnology expert, said in a statement.
Ordonio described RIGby as a “swiss knife” of tools for bioinformatics, as it contains the important data on rice breeding, which could hasten data generation and analysis.
The PhilRice said current rice sequencing and analysis takes “so much time,” as the data needed for the process are bulk and requires a large amount of storage.
“Through sequencing, traits needed to develop high-quality and stress-resistant varieties are mined. Genomic data, which require large amounts of storage, contain the functions of specific genes,” the PhilRice said.
Jan Michael C. Yap, project leader and lead developer of RIGby, said the software was specifically designed for rice research, as development of new stress-tolerant varieties are vital to cut the losses incurred by farmers due to climate-related problems.
“Better rice research is expected from the software, which will eventually benefit the farmers,” Yap said.
The PhilRice said the software would still undergo beta testing with rice researchers being encouraged to use RIGby. It added that RIGby is a “free software and open for development to anyone.”
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development is funding the development of RIGby, according to PhilRice.
Last year the PhilRice said it was banking on an “advanced and more efficient” breeding process to produce climate-resilient rice seeds.
PhilRice scientist Roel Suralta said precision breeding enables plant breeders to target traits that can be quantitatively associated with specific genes, which enhance plant performance.
“Precision breeding has been practiced in the Philippines for years. A classic example of PhilRice-released variety that is also a product of precision breeding is the NSIC Rc194, or Submarino 1, which has a submergence-tolerant trait,” Suralta said. “Other PhilRice varieties with improved disease-resistance are also a product of precision breeding,” he said.
PhilRice said precision breeding involves the transfer of specific desired traits—such as those that can tolerate drought conditions or resist certain diseases—into existing outstanding cultivars.
“It improves speed and precision, as desirable traits within the entire map of genetic material of related plants are identified and targeted,” Suralta said.
Written by Jasper Y. Arcalas in the Business Mirror. See original article link here.