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Wayne State professor part of team that sequenced genome of African rice to aid in “Green Revolution”

July 28, 2014

DETROIT – With the world population projected to increase from 7.1 billion to over 9 billion by 2050, there is a need for a second “green revolution” that will create crops with two to three times the current yield with reduced water, fertilizers and pesticides grown on marginal soils. Rice will play a key role in solving this increased need. 

A team of researchers from over 10 institutions including Wayne State University and the University of Arizona published a paper, “The genome sequence of African rice (Oryza glaberrima or O. glaberrima) and evidence for independent domestication,” July 27 in Nature Genetics. The paper explores the future need of developing types of rice that combine higher yields that tolerate environmental stresses. 

“After decades of promoting high-yielding Asian varieties of rice, the emphasis is now on developing types that have a higher yield like O. glaberrima, an African rice, that are tolerant of environmental stress of today and in the future,” said Chuanzhu Fan, assistant professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Science at Wayne State, and former post doc at the University of Arizona. “O. glaberrima rice is receiving much attention because of its potential to provide the African continent with the varieties suitable for current climate-change projections.”

Plant breeders have successfully crossed Asian rice species O. sativa with the African rice species to create new varieties that are especially promising.  Sequencing the African rice genome will contribute to the broad effort.

The paper is available at http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.3044.html.

Photo: Chuanzhu Fan

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit http://www.research.wayne.edu.

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