Genetics - 93


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Project Leader and Principal UC Investigators

David J. Mackill Research Geneticist, USDA-ARS, Department of Agronomy and Range Science, UC Davis

The promise of advanced techniques in molecular genetics is paying off with scientists "moving rapidly" toward the identification of genes for stem rot resistance and seedling vigor. A stem rot-resistant cross should be ready for evaluation within one year.

Researchers involved in this project also say the genes associated with cold tolerance won't be far behind, and selections with tolerance to rice water weevil are under scrutiny.

Last year scientists spent considerable time maintaining and evaluating potentially useful varieties. Facilitated by upgrades in their UC Davis laboratory, they obtained information from a molecular survey of US rice germplasm.

Hybrid rice production remains a distant goal for California. While scientists acknowledge "considerable bottlenecks" exist, the potential yield increase from "heterosis" warrants continued research. Progress in other locations indicates that hybrid varieties may soon be a reality outside of China.

Geneticists have begun to develop the tools necessary to increase rice yields through hybrid rice. These include transferring of cytoplasmic male sterility (CMS), the restorer gene and wide compatibility into California varieties and evaluation and further development of photoperiod-sensitive genetic male sterile lines. In 1994 CMS lines in California breeding material will be available and their application in hybrid seed production will be studied.

Crosses for transferring the restorer gene have been made but further backcrosses to appropriate cultivars are needed.

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