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Improving drought tolerance in rice for Africa

G7010.04.01 Improving rice productivity in lowland ecosystems of Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria through marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS) for drought tolerance and yield potential

Lead institute: AfricaRice

The impact of drought due to erratic rainfall and poor water control in rainfed lowland ecosystems affects rice yield in approximately 80 percent of the total rice-growing area in Mali, 67 percent in Burkina Faso and 48 percent in Nigeria.

The Rice Research Initiative (RI) focuses on the rainfed lowland rice ecosystem in these three countries above. It will characterise the drought profiles of the target population of environments in inland river valleys, identify drought traits of interest using novel phenotyping methodologies (which enable efficient separation of genetic and environmental effects), and establish and test a marker-assisted recurrent selection (MARS) scheme to develop better-adapted, drought-tolerant rice.

Main achievements in 2010

  • The SARRA–H (Système d’analyse régional des risques agroclimatiques–habillé ; System for regional analysis of agroclimatic risks) crop modelling system was enhanced to be able to simulate rainfed lowland rice with sufficient detail to distinguish breeding lines. The model is operational but must be fully validated using experimental results.
  • Seeds of four F3 populations were distributed to partners for evaluation for general adaptability to lowland conditions during the 2010 rainy season. About 500 F3 families from one of the populations were sent to breeders at AfricaRice in Nigeria, INERA in Burkina Faso, IER in Mali and NCRI in Nigeria. A protocol was developed and sent to all participating institutes, and trials have been conducted. Data are being analysed.
  • The IRIS–Rice RI database was established according to the project’s data management strategy (IRIS: Interenational Rice Information System). The following issues were dealt with: establishing nomenclature and standards for germplasm; entering germplasm lists, including parental lines; establishing nomenclature and standards for traits; and entering the trait dictionary.