Seven international scientists attend cold tolerance rice workshop

Four scientists from China, two from Japan and one from South Korea are attending an ‘International Cold Tolerance Rice Workshop’ being held by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) at Yanco Agricultural College this week (4 to 8 December).

NSW DPI rice breeder Russell Reinke said cold tolerance was a prime focus for the rice breeding program at Yanco.

“Rice is one of the most cold-sensitive crops, but is grown in temperate regions of Australia, Asia, Europe, California and South America, where low temperatures can damage young seedlings, developing pollen and maturing grain.

“Progress has been made in understanding rice cold damage. And this week-long workshop presents an excellent opportunity for rice scientists to discuss recent research on a wide range of topics related to cold tolerance in rice, with a particular emphasis on recent advances in screening, selection and molecular approaches.

“An added incentive is that cold tolerant rice is an essential foundation for future water savings,” he said.

“Varieties with enhanced cold tolerance won’t need flooded conditions for the entire growing period, and this will allow a new range of irrigation practices aimed at using less water”.

Dr Reinke said the workshop would further link Australia with its international counterparts, in particular the Chinese, and this international collaboration between rice researchers would greatly benefit breeding programs.

As well as the seven international scientists, about 30 other scientists, including molecular biologists, physiologists, and other researchers from across Australia, and members of the local Rice Research Committee, are attending the workshop.

The workshop will include laboratory visits in Canberra on Monday and Tuesday, followed by scientific presentations and discussions, a rice industry field trip, and a conference dinner at Yanco.

The workshop is principally funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research to improve linkages between Australian and overseas scientists. The Centre will also provide for a small review team to assess the impact of these international linkages 18 months after the workshop.

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has also helped finance the workshop, with the view that it will help coordinate the corporation’s portfolio of cold tolerance projects at Southern Cross University, Sydney University, CSIRO Plant Industry, and Diversity Arrays Pty Ltd (Canberra).