Using Genomic Prediction to Increase Genetic Gain in Oryza sativa for Increased Food Security in Esa
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Kenya
Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is the world's most important staple crop, feeding half of the global population. In Africa, its importance is evident from the continent's highest consumption growth rate of more than 34% when compared to 8% in Asia and 10% as the world average. In eastern and southern Africa (ESA), rice is considered a cash crop owing to its importance. Despite the importance, the paddy productivity in ESA countries is below 2 t ha-1. This is partly because farmers in ESA continue to use improved cultivars selected thirty or more years ago, or landraces selected generations ago, in a changing climate. In addition, breeders continue to use landraces in their breeding programs which, despite the fact that they contain enormous genetic variability, they are unsuitable for modern commercial agriculture because they lack the fertiliser responsiveness and yield potential farmers need for the changing climate. Productivity in ESA can at least be doubled by changing the current low yielding, old and obsolete varieties with modern resilient and high yielding varieties, and by modernizing the current traditional production systems. Although, exploring diversity in the ESA collection is imperative for identifying new genes, conservation and further improvement of the germplasm, utilisation of global breeding networks is critical to the developing world's capacity to adapt to climate change in crop production. Our objective was to use genomic prediction to improve genetic gain in rice in ESA. We tested 384 rice lines and used genomic prediction to envisage the performance of untested material in each selected ESA country and selected the subset to advance and also use as parents in our breeding program. We present preliminary results of the trials we are conducting in breeding zones in four ESA countries.
Keywords: Rice breeding program
Contact Address: Rosemary Murori, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Nairobi, Kenya, e-mail: rosemary938yahoo.com