UA Scientists Study Austrialian Wild Rice

By Heather van Blokland
Published: Monday, January 29, 2018 - 7:20am

Wild rice growing in northern Australia could hold the key to breeding a grain that is drought and pest resistant.

Rice is a staple food for over half of the world population and consumption levels are rising. After testing 13 different species of grain, researchers found Australian rice to have valuable traits that could be bred commercially.

Rod Wing is co-author and director of the Arizona Genomics Institute at the University of Arizona. He said genetic information could produce higher yielding, more nutritious rice, using less water and pesticides. 

Since 2003, Wing has been leading global research into 25 wild rice species that are genetically similar to two rice species consumed globally today, with the next research to focus on a wild rice that grows in saltwater.

Wing said the major question is how to feed a world population that's projected to reach 10 billion by 2050.

The groups' paper was published this week in Nature Genetics.