Thursday, October 8, 2015

Top 10 IRRI Contributions to the World

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a dedicated international institute for rice research and training, was established in 1960 with the support of the Ford FoundationRockefeller Foundation and the Government of the Philippines.  Its headquarters is located in Los Baños, Laguna in the Philippines and offices are in at least sixteen countries. For over half a century, IRRI has been in fore-front of research, news, breakthroughs and in receiving awards.  Here I like to create a discussion to find out top 10 things that we remember, when we mention the term IRRI. I compiled 10 contributions that I feel put IRRI at the helm. I want to initiate a discussion to find other major contributions of IRRI. Feel free to share your opinion.

1. Yoshida Solution
In an in vivo hydroponics rice seedling culture system, rice seedling either germinated directly on the solution or obtained from tissue culture are grown in the solution for considerable time. The solution must have nutrients in right amount. In 1976, S Yoshida and his research team published the ingredients and recipes for preparation of culture solution. Today, this recipe is widely known and used as Yoshida solution.

Ref: Yoshida S, Forno D.A., Cock J.H. & Gomez K.A. (1976). Laboratory Manual for Physiological Studies of Rice. IRRI, Manila. Philippines

2.  IR8
A year after the establishment of IRRI in 1962, Dr. Peter Jennings made 38 crosses of various varieties at IRRI. The eighth cross was between a dwarf variety known as Dee-geo-woo-gen (DGWG) and Peta, a tall variety. After cultivation for several generations uniform plants with high yield were selected, multiplied and distributed to farmers across the rice growing world that led to increase the rice yield that contributed to green revolution. The plants were about 120 cm tall, had strong culms, matured in 130 days- about a month earlier than the traditional varieties. Traditional varieties were averaging around one ton of rice per hectare of land (a hectare is 2.5 acres). Dr S. K. De Datta, published the result that said - the IR8 rice produced around 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer and rose to almost 10 tons with 120 kg of nitrogen per hectare. That was 10 times the traditional rice yield. Later other lines with prefix IR , such as IR 64, IR 72, etc were released. In 2013, IRRI celebrated 100,000th cross.


3. Rice genebank
IRRI maintains the International Rice Genebank that holds with more than 127,000 rice accessions and wild relatives. Samples of rice found in different countries in the world are in IRRI for safe keeping, and for sharing the common public good. As the rice is gradually replaced from farmers’ field and from their natural habitat, IRRI maintains them. The seeds are stored in low temperature in specially designed gene bank where the seeds are kept viable for many decades. IRRI gives free samples of different types of rice seed to any prospective user (farmers, scientists, researchers, governments or other stakeholders) on request, according to the conditions of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.  A copy of all the collection have been deposited in Svalbard Global seed Voult ( Norway). This reserve bank of seeds is an attempt to preserve seeds in future.

4. Whole genome (re)sequencing of rice
Though modestly referred in most publications, the then Biometrics and Bioinformatics Unit of International Rice Research Institute played a significant role in the whole genome sequencing. In 2002 the first rice genome sequencing was completed and it was published in 2005. Since then the genomics research in rice has increased dramatically.  At present, IRRI has completed whole genome sequencing of 3000 accessions of rice and is sequencing more accessions.

6. Stress (Submergence, drought and salt) tolerant rice
IRRI has developed rices for drought, flood, submergence and salinity prone areas.  They have been released in Asia and Africa. Rice with SUB1 gene derived from an indica rice has been bred into local and high yielding varieties to develop rice which overcome submergence stresses. The SUB1A gene begins to work when the plants suffocates under water by making the metabolic activities in the plant dormant, conserving the vitality until the water level recedes.  The gene then works to induce tillering once the plant is above the water level. Rice with drought tolerant traits, salinity tolerant traits have been developed and released. They were welcomed by the farmers from the affected areas. 

7. Long-term continuous cropping experiment (LTCCE)
Unless challenged with examples of other longer experiments, this remains the longest experiment to study the effect of continuous intensive cropping in field without addition of fertilizer or crop residues. It was started in 1952 and more than 150 crops have been harvested from these plots. Even now the soil has remained fertile to yield 2 to 3 tons per hactre per crop.
Details are HERE

8. Central Luzon loop survey
​​​The Central Luzon Loop Survey was started by IRRI scientists in 1966 prior to the Green Revolution. It is believed to be the longest continuous survey in rice farming and of rice farm families. The survey is taken for every 4-5 years. The sample farms are selected from the six municipalities in Laguna province - namely: Bay, Binan, Cabuyao, Calamba, Calauan,and Sta. Rosa. The survey tracks the changes in the farmer adopted rice technology, cultural practices, land tenure, mechanization, and labor practices 
Details: HERE


I am sure you don’t agree with some of the achievements above. So I leave the next two highlights to you to propose. Please provide support your claims.



Photo credits: IRRI Flickr
References: as cited or linked above.

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