Dr Smita Kurup
Direct seeded rice as a sustainable alternative to puddled transplanted rice
Direct seeded rice (DSR) is a more sustainable alternative to manual puddled transplanted rice (PTR). To obtain good yields under this system, the early and uniform emergence of seedlings is critical to counter high weed pressure and adverse soil physical environments.
Drs Peter Eastmond and Smita Kurup from Rothamsted Research are leading a BBSRC-GCRF project in collaboration with JIC (Prof Steve Penfield) and the International Rice Research Institute (Dr Arvind Kumar) to address ‘The genetic improvement of rice seed vigour for dry direct-seeded conditions’. At Rothamsted, Dr Guillaume Menard and Mr Daniel Anderson have designed a high-resolution imaging system designed to measure seedling mesocotyl, coleoptile, and root growth over the period required to complete emergence from deep soil. New high-throughput laboratory phenotyping platforms at Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre have been used to screen a large diversity panel of ~700 re-sequenced rice accessions provided by IRRI. In parallel these accessions have also been tested at three different sowing depths in the field at IRRI allowing a direct comparison of laboratory and field phenotypes. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) are underway to identify genes and alleles that confer stronger seed vigour and can be used for molecular breeding.
In addition, the team at Rothamsted is also performing a comparative transcriptomic analysis of different rice tissues, genotypes and treatment (GCRF-IAA funding) focused on providing a better understanding of gene networks that regulate mesocotyl elongation in rice.
Dr Menard is also developing a live imaging platform for rice seedling establishment in the dark. With Mr Anderson, the team is now looking at adapting the system to other crop species such as wheat and oilseed rape.