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25-February-2007 The Philippine STAR

With the government aiming to make the country self sufficient in rice, government scientists have been given the green light to start another project to come up with improved hybrid rice parental lines resistant to Bacterial Blight.

All eyes are now on Dr. Joan Marie S. Agarcio, a geneticist and molecular biologist from the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) as far as the project is concerned.

The project was approved by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap as part of the government's effort to produce rice varieties that would yield more and cost less to produce through modern biotechnology.

Yap had approved a total of nine applied biotech research projects for 2007, hoping to solve the many problems besetting the country's agriculture sector.

Alicia Ilaga, director of the Department of Agriculture (DA) Biotechnology Program, said the project will be implemented by PhilRice-Central Experimental Station and PhilRice Isabela in the project site at Maligaya, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

The project aims to identify the presence of target genes on advanced progenies and test the uniformity and stability of new and improved parental lines.

DNA fingerprinting and genome analysis of the selected improved parental lines is also among the objectives, Ilaga said.

Through the DA National Plant Variety Protection Office, the project hopes to register or patent improved and new material for commercialization.

To check for the genetic identity of the improve lines, DNA fingerprinting will be conducted using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers.

The information that will be generated from the SSR fingerprints will enable identification of the introgression regions from the donor lines into the improved progenies.

Scientists hope to register and patent the research output within the next two planting seasons.

Recent agricultural advances have improved rice productivity to meet the demands of world's population.

Innovative breeding methods, and biotechnological, molecular, and genome biology are being tapped to supplement to improve rice-breeding efficiency and enhance yield.

Many countries worldwide are already exploiting the hybrid-seed technology, and its success is seen as a potential strategy for rice yield enhancement.

Densely populated countries like the Philippines have been looking at rice hybrids as a possible solution for rice shortage, since the commercial success of rice hybrids.

In China , the most populated country in the world, a yield advantage of 15-30 percent higher than the best in-breed varieties was observed with the use of hybrid-seed technology. - Biolife News Service

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