Pre-breeding for new rainfed black rice varieties (PhD Top Up scholarship)

Southern Cross University

  • Project code: PRO-017477

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Monday, December 18, 2023

  • Project completion date: Friday, August 1, 2025

  • National Priority: RIC-Optimised genetic improvement


The project pre-breeding for new rainfed black rice varieties will characterize agronomic, phenotypic and genetic variations of a diversity panel of 189 black rice accessions sourced internationally through the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and resolve the genetics of grain pigmentation traits on black rice through GWAS and transcriptomic study. This project will shed light on the genotype-by-environment (GxE) interactions of the black rice trait and pinpoint potential candidate genes for variety improvement in the rice breeding program for the Northern Rivers region. As the lack of diversity in rice varieties was identified as a weakness of Australian rice industry, this project will push the diversity of varieties improvement in the industry and further assist with the acceleration of genetic improvement in the Rice Program RD&E Plan.
The NSW Northern Rivers rice industry does not practice irrigation, and production is highly dependent on the timing of rainfall. A similar rainfed growing system was employed throughout field experiments in this project to help the rice breeder at SCU select locally adapted parents. Adaptation to the rainfed system can also be a helpful indicator for higher water productivity, which is currently prioritized in the Rice Program RD&E Plan.
Recent scientific studies support the health benefits of black rice, including anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-hyperlipidemic and anti-cancer properties. This project’s result will help push the adaptation of highly-nutritional black rice and meet the growing demand of health-conscious rice consumers, which was identified as an opportunity for the Australian rice industry through SWOT analysis. 



Research Organisation

Southern Cross University