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New knowledge improves rice quality

ition, and Postharvest Center, Melissa Fitzgerald, said. "Many of the issues we discussed may not have even been considered a few years ago, but, with the recent advances in molecular biology and exciting new areas such as metabolomics (the whole-genome assessment of metabolites), we can do things now that we could only dream about before."

During the workshop, the latest research was presented in several new areas, including

  • Breeding for better quality and genetically mapping specific quality traits in rice such as taste and aroma.

  • The cooking and eating qualities of rice and how to measure sensory qualities more accurately.

  • The role of important substances such as starch and amylose in cooking rice and how they are measured.

"IRRI is very fortunate to have a strong foundation of previous rice quality research to build on," Dr. Fitzgerald said. "We needed that to ensure we made the right decisions as we move into a whole new era of rice quality research."

For many years, rice breeders have focused on developing varieties that would boost production and provide some insect and weed resistance to help farmers reduce their use of pesticides; quality was not a high priority. However, major new advances in rice research and Asia’s continuing economic development have created important new opportunities.

"These are the two key changes driving the whole process and making this research area so exciting," Dr. Zeigler said. "If we can link these two things together ?our new and improved knowledge and understanding of rice quality with affluent-consumer desires for better rice ?then it’s possible we can also help poor farmers improve their lives.

"This would be an outstanding example of using the latest in science to improve the lives of the poor, while satisfying the desires of the affluent," he added.
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Source:International Rice Research Institute


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