In the news...

New crop loss study underscores urgent need for resistant varieties

February 25th, 2019 / Alliance for Science, US

Plant pests and diseases are significantly reducing yields of five major food crops across the globe, underscoring the critical need to develop new resistant varieties, according to a new study.

Some 137 pathogens and pests cause losses of 10 to 40 percent in the staple crops — wheat, maize (corn), soybeans, …

Combat striga with push-pull technology

February 19th, 2019 / Daily Monitor, Uganda

B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports

If you manage to visit farmers growing cereal crops in most parts of East Africa including Uganda, you will notice striga weed infestation is a huge challenge.

Striga also known as witch weed, is a coerce plant parasitic weed which infests roots of the host plant …

Hybrid rice engineered with CRISPR can clone its seeds

December 17th, 2018 / Science News

After more than 20 years of theorizing about it, scientists have tweaked a hybrid variety of rice so that some of the plants produce cloned seeds. No plant sex necessary. The feat, described December 12 in Nature, is encouraging for efforts to feed an increasingly crowded world.
Crossing two good varieties …

The future of food: beating the heat with genome-edited crops

December 7th, 2018 / The Mainichi, Japan

Wheat with DNA tweaked to beat the heat, and redesigned rice that can flourish in hot, dry conditions. Work is now underway to bring these kinds of genetically edited foods to dinner tables around the world, with the new rice estimated to be in bowls by about 2039, all necessitated …

‘Switching off’ genes could speed efforts to breed disease-resistant plants

December 7th, 2018 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Researchers from [the French Agricultural Research Centre CIRAD] recently showed that inactivating a gene, RECQ4, leads to a three-fold increase in recombination in crops such as rice, pea and tomato …. This discovery, published in the journal Nature Plants could speed up plant breeding and development of varieties better suited …

Nigerian FG commences field trials on GMO crops

October 4th, 2018 / The Guardian, Nigeria

The Federal Government has granted permits for confined field trials on genetically modified maize, rice, cassava, sorghum and cowpea to ascertain ability to resist insect attack in the country.
Country Coordinator of Open Forum on Agriculture Biotechnology (OFAB), Dr. Rose Gidado, told The Guardian that the permits were granted after in-depth …

IRRI opens regional office in Africa

October 3rd, 2018 / World-Grain.com

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) opened a new regional office in Nairobi to help Africa boost rice productivity and self-sufficiency.
The office was inaugurated by Professor Hamadi Boga, Principal Secretary, Kenyan State Department of Agriculture Research, who was represented by Margaret Makelo; Jim Godfrey, chairman of the board of trustees and …

Rice genes could be key to stemming nitrogen pollution

August 28th, 2018 / Scientific American

Rice, wheat and other grains that have been bred to produce larger harvests using less land have been critical to feeding Earth’s population in the past 50 years. But these crops come with a significant cost: Their thirst for the chemical nutrients in fertilizer contributes to pollution that threatens air, …

Genetically modifying rice to produce HIV-neutralizing proteins

August 1st, 2018 / Phys.org

A team of researchers from Spain, the U.S. and the U.K. has genetically modified a strain of rice to produce HIV-neutralizing proteins. In their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the technique by which they modified the rice and how it might …

Popular rice variety gets extra gene power to fight bacterial attacks

June 27th, 2018 / The Hindu, India

Researchers at the Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Rice Research have developed a new variety of the popular Improved Samba Mahsuri (ISM) rice that can resist bacterial blight disease.
Bacterial blight disease, which affects rice crop, is caused by bacteria, Xanthomonas oryzae, and drastically reduces rice productivity.
The high yielding ISM variety is …