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Asian Rice/African Rice

Why rice?

Together with maize and wheat, rice supplies more than 42% of the calories of the human diet globally. Rice (Oryza spp.) is a staple food for about half of the world’s population. It is grown commercially in more than 100 countries on all continents except Antarctica, although the great majority of production and consumption is in Asia.

It is grown in both tropical and temperate regions, in both rainfed and irrigated systems. Two Oryza species are cultivated: O. sativa L. grown worldwide, and O. glaberrima Steud., grown mainly in West Africa but also in small pockets in Latin America.

Asian rice (O. sativa) contains two groups: japonica, grown in cooler zones of the tropics and temperate zones; and indica, grown in tropical and subtropical regions.


What we achieved


  • 318 seed samples of 15 species of wild rice collected in 12 countries: Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Malaysia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Uganda and Vietnam.  
  • Teams in Brazil, Ecuador and Costa Rica collected Oryza grandiglumis, a perennial wild rice endemic to tropical America that tolerates flooding and is high yielding.
  • Partners collected Oryza longistaminata, a perennial African wild rice that is resistant to stem borers.
  • Collectors in Pakistan found Oryza coarctata, an Asian rice that can cope with high salinity.
  • Collecting teams in Nepal collected Oryza meyeriana, a wild relative of Asian rice that is resistant to bacterial blight, one of the most serious diseases in rice cultivation.

Pre-breeding and evaluation

  • More than 1,500 introgressed lines (ILs) were developed from crosses between rice crop wild relatives (CWR) and cultivated varieties of O. sativa (Asian rice).
  • All 1,500 ILs were genotyped, identifying which portions of the genome, and how much of the genome, have been inherited from the wild relatives.
  • Promising ILs derived from wild Oryza species were identified with tolerance of drought, acid sulfate soils and saline rainfed conditions and for early maturity when direct seeded. 
  • Promising ILs have been conserved in the International Rice Genebank for sharing with global users through SMTA. 

Project partners


  • Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Brasília, Brazil
  • Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica
  • Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Agropecuarias, Estación Experimental Santa Catalina, Diego Mejia, Quito, Ecuador
  • Plant Genetic Resources Research Institute, Accra, Ghana
  • Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization, Nairobi, Kenya
  • Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, Serdang, Malaysia
  • National Agriculture Genetic Resources Centre of the Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Khumaltar, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Ibadan, Nigeria
  • Plant Genetic Resources Program, Bio-Resources Conservation Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan
  • Agricultural Plant Genetic Resources Conservation and Research Centre (APGRC), Wad Madani, Sudan
  • Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Entebbe, Uganda
  • Plant Resources Center, Hanoi, Vietnam

Pre-breeding and evaluation

Lead Institute: International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines


  • Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
  • Mekong Delta Development Research Institute
  • College of Agriculture, Can Tho University, Can Tho, Vietnam
  • Vietnamese Seed Centers and Extension Centers
  • Seed Clubs/farmers
  • Northern Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry Science Institute, Vietnam
  • South Center for Variety Evaluation and Seed Certification 

Rice key collections, materials and data

Rice collections

Pre-breeding materials 

  • All pre-breeding materials and promising introgession lines are conserved in the International Rice Genebank maintained by the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines


Rice stories

Crop Trust stories
Partner stories
Relevant publications
  • Arbelaez, J.D., Moreno, L.T., Singh, N., Tung, C-W., Maron, L.G., Ospina, Y., Martinez, C.P., Grenier, C., Lorieux, M., McCouch, S. 2015. Development and GBS−genotyping of introgression lines (ILs) using two wild species of rice, O. meridionalis and O. rufipogon, in a common recurrent parent, O. sativa cv. Curinga. Molecular Breeding 35(2): 81.
  • Kim, H., Jung, J., Singh, N., Greenberg, A., Doyle, J.J., Tyagi, W., Chung, J-W., Kimball, J., Sackville Hamilton, R., McCouch, S.R. 2016. Population dynamics among six major groups of the Oryza rufipogon species complex, wild relative of cultivated Asian rice. Rice 9: 56.
  • Boateng, S.K., Aboagye, L.M., Egbadzor, K.F., Darko, R.K., Ameka, G.K., Ekpe, P., Kanton, R., Dogbe, W., Saaka-Buah, S. 2019. Collecting of crop wild relatives and minor crops in Ghana. Research in Agricultural & Veterinary Sciences 3(2): 89–95.
  • Medeiros, M.B., Valls, J.F.M., Abreu, A.G., Heiden, G., Ribeiro-Silva, S., José, S.C.B.R., Santos, I.R.I, Passos, A.M.A., Burle, M.L. 2021. Status of the ex situ and in situ conservation of Brazilian crop wild relatives of rice, potato, sweet potato, and finger millet: Filling the gaps of germplasm collections. Agronomy 21: 638.
  • Tin, H.Q., Loi, N.H., Bjornstad, Å., Kilian, B. 2021. Participatory selection of CWR-derived salt-tolerant rice lines adapted to the coastal zone of the Mekong Delta. Crop Science: 61: 277–288. 
  • Tin, H.Q., Loi, N.H., Labarosa, S.J.E., McNally,K.L., McCouch, S., Kilian, B. 2021. Phenotypic response of farmer−selected CWR−derived rice lines to salt stress in the Mekong Delta. Crop Science: 61: 201–208.
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