Optic Technology Aiding Hybrid Rice Breeding


About 600kg of third-generation hybrid rice seeds was sorted at a speed of 20kg/h last week, with the help of a prototype developed by Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics (CIOMP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.


The prototype, a fluorescence identification and sorting device, can boost the speed and accuracy of seed sorting, a help for agricultural scientists at China National Hybrid Rice R&D Centre (CNHRRDC), where third-generation hybrid rice is being developed.


Prof. YUAN Longping, known as the father of hybrid rice, is a strong supporter of the seed identification and sorting device, a project jointly conducted by CIOMP and CNHRRDC.

Third-generation of hybrid rice is the latest achievement of YUAN and his team. Crop yield of this rice breed exceeded 1,000kg per mu (about 0.07 hectares). 


Unlike the previous two generations of hybrid rice which requires large amount of water and fertilisers as well as demanding growing conditions and technological support, the third-generation hybrid rice can be easily cultivated by ordinary farmers. 


Breeding of third-generation hybrid rice uses genetic engineered male sterile rice as a genetic tool to overcome the weakness of difficult combination of three-line hybrid rice and unstable fertility of two-line hybrid rice. 


The genes added to the genetically engineered rice contain fluorescence which serves as identification markers for sorting, as all seeds contain transgenic components should be filtered out. 


This is where CIOMP came in. CNHRRDC and CIOMP signed an agreement on November 26, 2019 in Changsha. CIOMP will develop an instrument with 100% fluorescence seeds identification and sorting rate, according to the agreement. 


The device is an improvement on existing products which are unsatisfactory on both efficiency and accuracy. About 600-kg high quality rice seeds with 100% fluorescence identification were sorted in 10 days (May 17 – 26) with the prototype device, developed and built in just six months, to ensure the sorting and planting of the third-generation hybrid rice seeds this year.  


The prototype device would give a big boost to the development of third-generation hybrid rice, said YUAN from CNHRRDC.


Group photo of Academician Yuan Longping and the CIOMP team who developed the seed identification and sorting device (Photo by CIOMP)



Author: CAO Nailiang

Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Changchun, jilin 130033, China

E-mail: caonl@ciomp.ac.cn

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