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News : ABOR Confirms Five New Regents' Professors at UA
webmaster Posted on 2019/4/16 9:30:01 ( 381 reads )

The Arizona Board of Regents on April 11 confirmed the appointments of University of Arizona faculty members Alfred McEwen, John Rutherfoord, Dr. Marvin Slepian, Rod Wing and Lucy Ziurys as Regents' Professors.

The title of Regents’ Professor is reserved for full professors whose exceptional achievements merit national and international distinction. Regents' Professor appointments are limited to no more than 3 percent of the total number of the university’s tenured and tenure track faculty members.

Rod Wing has had a remarkable career in plant science. To read the information that plant genomes carry, their DNA must be turned into libraries: cut into shorter, overlapping pieces and inserted into vectors that can be propagated, stored and, most importantly, precisely sequenced. In the early 1990s, when the field of genomics began to explode, most available vectors were based on yeast artificial chromosomes, which were nimble enough to accommodate very large pieces of DNA but had the inconvenient habit of rearranging the inserted DNA in ways that no longer mirrored its original structure. This serious hurdle was overcome when Wing developed BACs – artificial chromosomes based on bacteria rather than yeast. Many years have passed, but BACs remain the cornerstone on which DNA libraries from plants and all sorts of other organisms are still constructed.

Armed with unique tools, several of which he developed, Wing moved on to tackle one of the most formidable challenges in plant sciences: the sequencing on the genome of rice, a crop eaten daily by more than 3 billion people worldwide. Wing was the U.S. leader of the 10-nation team that sequenced the rice genome, the completion of which was announced in Tucson in November 2004 and published in Nature in 2005. Rice was the first crop genome to be sequenced and remains the highest-quality genome available for any crop.

Since 2005, Wing has continued his work on many other genome projects including maize, Drosophila, or the common fruit fly, and the wild relatives of rice.

Wing has been recognized by numerous awards, including being elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science this year. He is director of the Arizona Genomics Institute and the Bud Antle Endowed Chair Professor in the School of Plant Sciences' Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

His commitment to excellence is also revealed by his service and teaching record at the UA. He has taught several undergraduate Honors Colloquia, all centered on understanding and solving the problem of feeding the world’s growing population. He is also dedicated to outreach for elementary school students and their families, and introduces them to the plant sciences at Plant Science Family Nights. ... new-regents-professors-ua

News : Opening the doors to food security through genomics
webmaster Posted on 2018/6/28 1:15:29 ( 2011 reads )

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The development of Green Super Rice, a new breed of stable, climate-smart, high-yielding varieties, opens up the potential of understanding and using genomics of agroecosystems in responding to the increasingly complex challenges the agricultural sector is facing today.

As the global population continues to increase exponentially each day, so does the demand for rice, a major staple food and livelihood for more than 3.5 billion people. Given the current growth rate, it is expected that global population will reach around 10 billion by 2050. Much of this increase will occur in poor, densely populated regions in Asia and Africa that are already highly dependent on rice for food, nutrition, and livelihood.

The article “The Rice Genome Revolution: from an Ancient Grain to Green Super Rice” published in Nature Reviews Genetics discusses how genomes from domesticated and wild rice can be used to improve other breeding programs, making it more responsive to global needs.

IRRI’s first AXA Chair and University of Arizona professor, Rod A. Wing, teamed up with Michael D. Purugganan of New York University, and Qifa Zhang of the Huazhong Agricultural University, in investigating genetic variation among domesticated rice species to develop more stable high-yielding varieties and enhance other breeding programs. Though traditional breeding programs resulted in varieties with better lodging resistance and higher yield vigor, it has been costly in terms of resources most especially with the environment.

In 2008, one year after Professor Zhang first proposed the concept of Green Super Rice (GSR), IRRI and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, began working together to use genomics to develop GSR varieties. That is, varieties that are higher yielding and more nutritious, while at the same time requiring less water, fertilizers and pesticides and can grow on marginal lands. GSR varieties also hold the potential to help smallholder farmers mitigate the impact of climate change in their livelihoods.

GSR varieties are developed to efficiently use nutrients and have resistance to pests, diseases, and abiotic stresses such as drought, submergence, salinity, cold, and heat. These varieties are able to produce enough food with improved eating quality for the world’s expanding population while using fewer inputs such as water, fertilizer, and pesticide. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions thus decreasing the impact of rice farming on the environment.

Through the use of available gene sequences (see Genomic variation in 3,010 diverse accessions of Asian cultivated rice), breeders could use genetic markers to develop varieties like GSR. As a result, the breeding process becomes more efficient, precise, and more responsive in developing varieties that can help in achieving food security in a complex production environment. ... on=&id_category=&id_crop=

News : Rice Genomics: ‘Editor’s Pick’ on the Springer Nature Grand Challenges
webmaster Posted on 2018/6/21 2:55:32 ( 1782 reads )

Rice Genomics
Harnessing the genetic variation in wild and cultivated rice populations will be key to developing Green Super Rice varieties with high yield and low environmental costs.

Rice is a staple crop for half the world’s population, which is expected to grow by three billion over the next 30 years. It is also a key model for studying the genomics of agroecosystems. This dual role places rice at the centre of an enormous challenge facing agriculture: how to leverage genomics to produce enough food to feed an expanding global population. Scientists worldwide are investigating the genetic variation among domesticated rice species and their wild relatives with the aim of identifying loci that can be exploited to breed a new generation of sustainable crops known as Green Super Rice. In their Nature Reviews Genetics article, “The Rice Genome Revolution: from an Ancient Grain to Green Super Rice” authors Rod A. Wing, Michael D. Purugganan and Qifa Zhang review how comparative and functional genomic studies of domesticated and wild rice germplasm collections can be used to inform breeding programmes, with an emphasis on how they are contributing to the development of Green Super Rice varieties.

By Nature Reviews Genetics

https://grandchallenges.springernature ... posts/34168-rice-genomics

News : As Asians get rich and healthy, 'smart crops' replace rice on future menus
webmaster Posted on 2018/5/24 1:18:18 ( 2009 reads )

By Rina Chandran

TAIPEI, May 21 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Lunchtime in Taipei's Ximending district is a test of wills and patience as tourists and locals jostle at restaurants and street stalls to choose from steamed and fried dumplings, flat and thin noodles, stuffed pancakes, grills and desserts.

In this foodie haven, one item makes only an occasional appearance on menus and on plates - rice.

Once a staple of Taiwanese diets, rice consumption per person has fallen more than two-thirds in 50 years, according to the United Nations' Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), as "smart crops" and "super foods" muscle their way onto plates.

It is the steepest drop in Asia but a trend across the continent as urbanisation, rising incomes, climate change and concerns about health and food supplies drive a push for alternatives for the future such as millets and more protein.

"I ate a lot of rice when I was younger but now I eat more vegetables, fish and meat. It's healthier," said Guan-Po Lin, 24, who moved to Taipei for university.

"People are spending more on food, and they want to eat healthy, and rice is not seen as a healthy choice."

About 90 percent of global rice production and consumption is in Asia, home to 60 percent of the world's population.

Yet, as trends in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong show, consumption is set to drop significantly as diets change.

Per capita consumption has fallen about 60 percent in Hong Kong since 1961, and by almost half in Japan. In South Korea, it has slid 41 percent since 1978, FAO data showed.

Alongside that the consumption of fish, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables has risen significantly.

Rice will still be the single most important crop in the region, key in diets and a symbol of Asian culture, but it will not be as dominant in coming years as new foods are snapped up, said David Dawe, a senior economist at the FAO in Bangkok.

"It is the future for Asia - well-nourished people who can perform better. You cannot get that by filling up on rice; you need more fish, meat, fruits and vegetables," he said.

News : ‘Wild’ genes open up opportunities for healthier, climate-smart rice
webmaster Posted on 2018/1/30 10:40:00 ( 1852 reads )

Los Baños, Philippines (30th January 2018) — The genome sequencing of seven wild rice varieties has finally been completed. This breakthrough is expected to provide opportunities for breeders worldwide in developing better rice varieties that will respond to the changing needs of the farmers and the consumers.

This discovery is outlined in the article Genomes of 13 domesticated and wild rice relatives highlight genetic conservation, turnover and innovation across the genus Oryza published by Nature Genetics. The study details the generation of seven wild and two cultivated genomes (IR8 and N22). The IR8, popularly known as “miracle rice,” was developed by rice scientists from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IR8 was one of the rice varieties that ushered in the Green Revolution in Asia during the 1960s and prevented worldwide starvation and famine.

Resized Image ... lthier-climate-smart-rice

News : Dingo Genome Progress Presented at PAG
webmaster Posted on 2018/1/17 14:31:04 ( 1438 reads )

SAN DIEGO (GenomeWeb) – A University of New South Wales-led team has sequenced and assembled a desert dingo genome de novo in the hopes of untangling canine domestication in general, along with the dingo's own history in Australia.

UNSW biotechnology and biomedical sciences researcher Bill Ballard presented the work during a PacBio workshop at the Plant and Animal Genome conference here yesterday. He noted that the research follows from pioneering work by the late Alan Wilton, a geneticist at the UNSW, who established a large dingo DNA repository. ... me-progress-presented-pag

News : A Genome Genius
webmaster Posted on 2017/7/19 20:42:16 ( 1239 reads )

Endowed chair Rod Wing takes aim at world hunger

News : AGI co-authors a Science Advance article with Monica Schmid’s and Peter Cotty’s labs describing an innovative solution to eliminate aflatoxin contamination from crop plants
webmaster Posted on 2017/3/10 19:50:54 ( 1813 reads ) ... 50-8315-e040ebc78cb9.html

News : Small Molecule Could Play Role in Food Security
webmaster Posted on 2017/3/10 8:00:00 ( 1312 reads )

UA researchers have pioneered a new approach that could save millions of tons of crops each year from contamination with aflatoxin, a major threat to health and food security especially in developing parts of the world. ... d-play-role-food-security

News : AGI & IRRI Release a Reference Genome Assembly for Miracle Rice
webmaster Posted on 2016/11/29 1:00:00 ( 2810 reads )

Resized ImageIn honor of the 50th anniversary of Miracle Rice (IR-8) the Arizona Genomics Institute (AGI) ( and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) ( is proud to release* a reference genome assembly of IR-8 using PacBio RSII sequencing technology.

This work was funded by the AXA Research Fund to R.A.W. through IRRI.

(*Please note that our GenBank submission (MPPV00000000) is released under the Ft. Lauderdale agreement whereby the AGI/IRRI team reserves the right to publish a detailed analysis of the IR-8 in a forthcoming publication.)

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A portion of AGI's material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 102620.