Leading a new chapter in international cooperation on wild rice

11 March 2024

An international alliance has been set up to conserve wild rice, with University of Queensland Professor of Innovation in Agriculture, Professor Robert Henry, the Australian representative.  

The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Yazhou Bay National Laboratory, the International Rice Research Institute and researchers from 24 different countries have released their vision for  the Global Alliance for the Conservation of Wild Rice .

Professor Robert Henry squatting in a wild rice field
Professor Robert Henry in a field of wild rice 

The researchers have reached consensus on the mission, mission and co-construction principles of the alliance, aiming to promote innovative research on wild rice germplasm resources through strengthening international cooperation under the premise of respecting biodiversity and promoting resource sharing.

Wild rice is a valuable germplasm resource, with many excellent genes such as disease resistance, insect resistance, and stress resistance.

These germplasm resources play a vital role in increasing rice yields, improving quality, and enhancing adaptability.

However, in the context of global climate change, frequent occurrence of agricultural pests and diseases, and poor international scientific research and cooperation on wild rice, the global protection and utilization of wild rice germplasm resources is particularly important and urgent.

It is necessary to increase efforts to ensure that these precious germplasm resources are effectively protected and fully utilized, so as to provide strong support for the sustainable development of the rice industry.

Roadmap for the implementation of the Wild Rice Alliance Vision
Roadmap for the implementation of the Wild Rice Alliance Vision

To achieve this vision, the alliance will use advanced breeding methods, data mining and bioinformatics tools to make the most of wild germplasm resources and discover new genes.

At the same time, the alliance is actively pooling the expertise and experience of 26 scientists from 24 countries in related fields to solve the key problem of improving rice yields.

In this process, attention is not only paid to the conservation of wild rice habitats, but also to interdisciplinary research, including ecology, morphology, genetics and biotechnology.

The alliance is committed to the conservation of wild rice germplasm resources and strives to apply these resources and their excellent genes to rice breeding programs to improve the existing level of rice research.

Ultimately, the sustainable development of agriculture is promoted by conserving the species diversity and genetic diversity of wild rice.

The achievement of this vision highlights the deep understanding of the importance of wild rice resources in the global rice community, and marks that wild rice research has officially entered a new and higher-level stage of international cooperation.

It will provide strong scientific research support and impetus for the conservation and sustainable use of global wild rice resources, and also provide new solutions for global food security and sustainable agricultural development.

The alliance is outlined in Molecular Plant.

Professor Henry is conducting his work through the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Success in Nature and Agriculture.

Media: Professor Robert Henry, robert.henry@uq.edu.au, +61 419 693 078; QAAFI Media, Natalie MacGregor, n.macgregor@uq.edu.au, +61 409 135 651.

The Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation is a research institute at The University of Queensland supported by the Queensland Government via the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.