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Bioscience in brief

Plant genetics and crop breeding

What is hybridisation?

Rice farmer(s) in Rwanda.

Hybridisation is a central process in plant breeding.  There are two main classes of hybrids: interspecific hybrids and intraspecific or F1 hybrids

Interspecific hybrids are produced by crossing individuals of different species. The offspring of an interspecific cross are very often sterile. An example of an interspecific cross is the New Rice for Africa (NERICA).



Nerica rice farmers in Deve, Benin

Rice has been grown in Africa for over 3000 years. The demand for rice in West and Central Africa, the rice belt of Africa, is rapidly increasing, and each year rice imports in Africa are worth over US$1 billion.

In West Africa two rice species co-exist: African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and Asian rice (Oryza sativa). Many of the Asian rice varieties grown in Africa are highly susceptible to insect pests, diseases, weeds and toxic soils. NERICA was developed by crossing Asian and African rice varieties to find stable and fertile breeds that would combine the yields of Asia’s plants and the toughness of Africa’s.