Gene-edited rice plants, the pesticide-free option to fight pyricularia

Jun 4, 2024

Rice blast is a disease that is widespread throughout the world and causes major losses in global rice production. The European Parliament’s favourable position on the European Commission’s legislative proposal on New Genomic Techniques (NGT) opens the door to new options and technologies in the agri-food sector, such as the commercialisation of plant varieties developed with these techniques that are resistant to pests, drought or other problems. On 6 June, the Breakfast4inno of Parc Agrobiotech Lleida and Agrotecnio will address gene editing as an option for improving rice crops.

Magnaporthe oryzae, the fungus that causes rice blast, is estimated to be responsible for 30% of the losses in world rice production, the equivalent of feeding 60 million people. In Lleida, a research group has been working for decades to develop a variety of bomb rice resistant to the disease. To infect the plants, the fungus identifies certain genes that the Lleida research has deactivated, so that the fungus can neither identify nor infect the plants. The Applied Plant Biotechnology group at Agrotecnio and the University of Lleida, led by Paul Christou and Teresa Capell, is one of the first in the world to work on rice biotechnology and gene editing.

On Thursday 6 June, at 9:30 am, Capell will participate in the Breakfast4inno of Parc Agrobiotech and Agrotecnio to address the new horizon that arises with the support of the European Parliament to the New Genomic Techniques. Marc Fontquerna, agronomist and advisor in rice production at the Agrupació de Defensa Vegetal de l’Arròs de Pals will also participate representing the production sector and the pilot tests of practical application of these new techniques that are being carried out with bomba rice.

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