Australia and Japan come together to improve rice productivity

Rice, one of the world’s most common dietary staples and has been identified as an important crop requiring a collaborative approach to maintain global food production.

The School of Agriculture and Food (SAF) at the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences has identified the importance of rice. A major weakness impacting the productivity of rice is its high susceptibility to the stresses associated with a changing global climate, where hotter and drier conditions are predicted.

With this challenge in mind, SAF hosted an esteemed scientist, Professor Yusaku Uga, from the Institute of Crop Science, National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), Japan.

Professor Uga presented a seminar on Monday 8 April 2019 titled: "Towards designed genetic control of root system architecture for development of climate-resilient crops".  Following his seminar, Professor Uga took opportunity to meet with academics from both FVAS and the School of Biosciences to further discuss climate-resilient crops.

During the seminar, Professor Uga detailed to the audience how he is developing climate-resilient crops using ‘RootOmics’. The RootOmics approach integrates data from techniques such as micro-CT-imaging of root architecture and gene profiling to model the ideal root system to deal with the challenges of a hotter and drier climate.

Professor Uga was extended this invitation to the University of Melbourne by Professor Herbert J. Kronzucker. Professor Kronzucker was recently appointed as the Head of School for the School of Agriculture and Food, where he leading expert on rice, focusing on how roots operate at the cellular level.

Professor Kronzucker’s team is working on the molecular mechanisms of root nutrient acquisition in rice and on physico-chemical barriers in roots that can be induced to protect the rice plant from water loss and toxic toxic salt entry when grown in stressed environments.

Professors Kronzucker and Uga identified many complementing research areas with a common goal to improve the global productivity of rice.