IRRI develops first speed breeding protocol for rice

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VARANASI, INDIA, 18 December 2023 – Scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) developed a robust, first ever speed breeding protocol for rice that will achieve 4 to 5 crops of rice in one year – almost double of what has been possible in breeding programs until now. This protocol will be important to accelerate breeding new improved varieties of rice to cope with climate change and the needs of a growing world population.

Called SpeedFlower, the protocol focuses on optimizing light spectrum, amount and intensity, along with temperature, humidity and other variables that expedite growth, flowering and maturity in rice. The protocol is suitable for the vast majority of rice grown globally, including for indica and japonica rice.

“We can now develop new high-yielding, climate-resilient, and nutritionally superior rice varieties in a much shorter duration. This is a major scientific step toward significantly boosting genetic gain in rice, ultimately contributing to global food security,” said program lead Drs. Vikas Kumar Singh, Uma Maheshwar Singh, and Pallavi Sinha.

The success of Speed breeding in other crops led to the establishment of a state-of-the-art SpeedBreed facility at the ISARC in Varanasi, India. To achieve speed breeding in rice, the facility has been customized with controlled growth parameters using fully enclosed walk-in growth chambers.

“SpeedFlower demonstrates a remarkable impact of speed breeding on crop research. With this protocol, we can expedite crossing and inbreeding activities, completing them within 1.5–2 years instead of the usual 6–7 years required in the field,” said ISARC Director, Dr. Sudhanshu Singh.

SpeedFlower described

The protocol focuses on optimizing light spectrum, intensity, photoperiod, temperature, humidity, nutrient levels and hormonal regulation to expedite growth, flowering and maturity in rice. It has demonstrated flowering within just…

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