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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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New in April, 2014 - Recent Publications, Grants AwardedHonors and Awards Received, Outreach, Non-technical ArticlesCritical and Emerging Issues


Recent Publications -


Shakiba, E., Eizenga, G. C. 2014. Unraveling the secrets of rice wild species. In: W.G. Yan and J. Bao (eds.) Rice- Germplasm, Genetics and Improvement. (Available online at: )


The world’s population will soon reach nine billion people, intensifying the need to be able to grow crops on marginal land and continue to improve crop yields and productivity. One method of improving crop productivity is to discover genes that were lost during the evolution and domestication of crop plants. This chapter describes the traits transferred from rice wild species into the background of cultivated rice including genes to combat rice diseases, insect pests, temperature extremes, drought, and acid soils, as well as, genes to improve rice quality and grain yield. These studies reveal that we have only begun to exploit the rice wild species for developing improved rice varieties with better tolerance to extreme environmental conditions and climate change.


Venu, R.C., Ma, J., Jia, Y., Liu, G., Jia, M.H., Nobuta, K., Sreerekha, M.V., Moldenhauer, K., McClung, A. M., Meyers, B.C., and Wang, G.-L. 2014. Identification of Candidate Genes Associated with Positive and Negative Heterosis in Rice. PLoS ONE 9(4):e95178. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095178.


Hybrid rice has been grown in China since the 1970s and now has been extended to the US and the rest of the world because of its superior yield potential compared with traditional inbred cultivars. Heterosis is the biological phenomenon that allows offspring to have superior traits compared to their parents. However, the genetic basis of heterosis has not been fully understood. In the present study, we generated gene expression libraries from roots, leaves, and the actively growing meristem cells of two rice varieties, ‘Nipponbare’ and ‘93-11’, and their F1 hybrid offspring to identify differentially expressed genes that are associated with heterosis. We found abundant differentially expressed genes in the F1 hybrid population that may contribute to heterosis. These genes were mapped and found to be linked with 71 chromosomal regions that are known to be related to yield. These mapped candidate genes will facilitate future work to clarify the molecular basis of heterosis in rice.


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Grants Awarded - none to report.



Special invited presentations given, or honors and awards received - none to report.



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Public Outreach/Stakeholder and Collaborator Contacts -

April 1 Dr. Shannon Pinson consulted with Dr. David Hole, Utah State University in Logan, UT on rice germplasm to use to investigate cold tolerance. 


April 2 Dr. Anna McClung met with Dr. Ranil Wickramasinghe of the Membrane Science, Engineering, and Technology Center and Jerry Adams of the Arkansas Research Alliance, to discuss research needs of the US rice industry.


April 4 Drs. Anna McClung and Ming-Hsuan Chen were contacted by Dr. Scott Aker, Head of Horticulture, U.S. National Arboretum at Washington, DC to participate in the Grass Roots Exhibit, which has a part of the program featuring grasses that are agronomic crops. Rice seed of a cultivar that has colored bran and potential health beneficial properties will be provided for the outdoor exhibit.


April 4 Drs. David Gealy and Anna McClung hosted 24 community leaders from across the state of Arkansas that are participating in the Lead AR professional development program. An overview of research conducted at the DBNRRC was presented as well as a tour of the lab facilities.


April 9 Dr. Yulin Jia consulted with Dr. Sally Mackenzie, University of Nebraska, on a collaborative project involved in assessing traits associated with biotic stress response and enhanced vigor in rice.

April 11 Dr. Yulin Jia consulted with Dr. Bo Zhou, Plant Pathologist of International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines, on developing a novel method to detect genes of the rice blast fungus.

April 12  Drs. Pinson, Gealy & Eizenga hosted three teachers and 13 students from Silverton Public High School in Silverton, CO. The students visited the DBNRRC as part of the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound program used in this small and isolated school district. The objective of the visit was to give the students an opportunity to learn more about agriculture, rice production, and transgenic research in rice and other crops. The students also learned about rice genomics and breeding, genetic diversity, disease testing, and gene flow on their tour at the DBNRRC.


April 13 Dr. Yulin Jia consulted with Dr. Chong-Yun Fu of the Rice Research Institute, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences (GDAAS), China on a collaboration to study global warming effects on plant-pathogen interactions.


April 22-24  Researchers from Cornell University that are collaborators on a National Science Foundation grant with Drs. Georgia Eizenga and Anna McClung met at DBNRRC to conduct an annual review of the grant entitled “Exploring the genetic basis for transgressive segregation in rice”. Updates on various aspects of the research project were discussed along with education efforts via National Public Radio spots and outreach to rice producers in the Northeastern USA.


April 24-25 Dr. Anna McClung was an invited speaker at the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation meeting held at the Clemson Coastal Research and Extension Center in Charleston, SC. She presented results of organic rice production research that is part of a Southern SARE grant in collaboration with Drs. Fugen Dou and Xin-Gen Zhou of Texas Agrilife, Beaumont, TX.


During the month of April, 3 DBNRRC staff members provided 10 hours of tutoring to students at Phillips Community College in Stuttgart, AR.


During the month of April, 830 rice accessions from the Genetics Stocks Oryza (GSOR) collection were distributed to researchers in the USA, Italy, and Spain.


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Non-technical Articles Published - none to report


Critical or Emerging Issues - none to report


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For more information, please contact Anna McClung, Research Leader,

Last Modified: 5/16/2014
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