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Functional and Comparative Genomics of Grain Number, Plant Height, and Heading date 7 (Ghd7) in Sri Lankan Rice Varieties and Its Role in Conferring Abiotic Stress Tolerance

NRC Grant:  14-117

Dr. H.M.V.G. Herath
Dept. of Agri. Biology
Faculty of Agriculture
University of Peradeniya
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Area of Research:Agricutural Biology



a) To develop an elite rice germplasm with desirable genes derived from traditional varieties.

b) To provide a better understanding of the economically and biologically important genes in rice and its relatives

c) To sequence and assemble Ghd7 alleles among popular cultivars and traditional rice varieties in Sri Lanka.

d) To study the effect of Ghd7 expression (increased/decreased) in selected cultivars and traditional rice varieties on the physiology of stress responses

e) To evaluate the contribution of Ghd7 to abiotic tolerance in rice

f) To develop specific molecular markers to identify superior Ghd7 alleles identified during this study                            

g)To provide research, writing and scientific practice training for undergraduates, postgraduates and technical officers 


Elite germplasm containing desirable genes is the basis for the development of superior rice cultivars.  Presence of a large number of wild and tradition relatives have proven to be an invaluable source of genes for yield improvement in rice.  The proposed study will focus on the characterization of a key gene (Ghd7) responsible for increased rice yield in wild and traditional relatives of rice using modern molecular technologies.  The results will pave a path to transfer the desirable Ghd7 alleles from wild and traditional relatives to cultivated rice varieties which will assist to reach a big leap in production.  More importantly fine tuning of this gene enables breeders to produce significant rice harvest under adverse conditions such as drought and salinity experienced by our country. Also, through a series of training this project will provide opportunities for undergraduates (University of Peradeniya and Rajarata University of Sri Lanka), graduate students (directed study & MPhil at Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture), and technical officers (University of Peradeniya) to learn and apply a broad range of genetic, evolutionary, genomic and bioinformatic tools.  In long-term, this project will develop a toolkit that breeders (Rice Research and Development Institute and other Department of Agriculture Research Institutes) can use to identify, characterize and utilize genes that are important in agricultural productivity improvement irrespective of the crop type leading towards food security under national and international levels.