The collaboration will create, sequence and characterize millions of new gene alleles. It will focus on 5,000 proprietary indica-type rice lines provided by Arcadia Biosciences, an agricultural technology company based in Davis, California, U.S. All of the varieties are non-bioengineered/non-GMO.
BGI, a genomics organization based in Shenzhen, China, will determine the genomic DNA sequences for all 5,000 lines and make the data freely available on-line. The China National Gene Bank, being established and operated by BGI, will store the seed and distribute the rice lines in exchange for researchers providing public access to findings using the lines.
“As the staple food for China, as well as for nearly half of the world’s population, rice is one of BGI’s most important research priorities,” said Xin Liu, vice-director of BGI — Research. “Large-scale discovery of novel alleles for desirable rice phenotypes is critical to understanding genomic diversity and elucidating gene function for development of elite varieties.”
Arcadia Biosciences will have the rights to apply the findings from the collaboration to extend and broaden its programs that increase the yields and profitability of rice production globally.
“These shared results have the potential to accelerate rice variety development and eventually extend to other key food crops,” said Eric Rey, president and chief executive officer of Arcadia. “We are cost-effectively connecting a major global genetics research base with the breeders who can apply that knowledge practically to support global food security in the face of growing populations, limited land resources and the negative effect of climate change on crop yields.”
Arcadia Biosciences has developed non-bioengineered genetic diversity libraries in other crops such as soybeans, two types of wheat, canola and vegetable crops.