Dr Katherine Steele
School of Natural Sciences
Applying SNP-based markers to improve rice for farmers and consumers
We have over 20 years experience in the application of molecular markers in rice and worked with Indian breeders and farmers to develop the first released rice variety to have improved roots through pyramided QTLs. We are now helping farmers in Eastern India to improve seed supply of this variety through impact awards from GCRF and ESRC (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYlp6_R1D6c)
Many national programme rice breeders still use microsatellites (SSRs) for selection. Our current work in a DFID-funded Innovate UK Agri-Tech Catalyst project has identified SNPs and InDels in rice that are suitable for use as KASP assays. These can be more cost effective than microsatellite markers in selection for a range of traits and the assays are available from LGC Biosearch Technologies who are project partners. Other partners are National programme rice breeders in Nepal, Pakistan and India as well as a Nepalese seed company that has adopted molecular breeding as a result of this project (http://blog.biosearchtech.com/accelerating-rice-improvement-in-south-asia ).
Another long-term focus of rice research in Bangor is Basmati rice. Its import into the UK is an important contribution to India and Pakistan’s economies. However, it can be diluted with cheaper varieties leading to an inferior product while new modern Basmati varieties can not easily be identified. Previously we improved the microsatellite panel for Basmati authentication for use by Public Analysts. Recently Defra commissioned us to test the UK Rice Association’s updated list of approved Basmati varieties with KASP assays.