Tuesday, December 4, 2012

IRRI breeding marks 100,000th cross

Rice breeding in IRRI marked a milestone in the Institute's mission to help feed the world—its 100,000th cross.

A simple yet meaningful gathering to mark the breeding milestone was held on 29 November 2012 at N.C. Brady Laboratory in IRRI, which houses the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology division. The event was attended by IRRI staff and members of management, as well as retired breeders who saw through the early years of breeding in IRRI.

Glenn Gregorio, deputy head of the breeding division, dubbed ricebreeding work as a “tedious way of matchmaking.”

“IRRI has been in existence for more than 50 years and, with the vast diversity at our disposal through the Genebank, we have been making about 2,000 crosses a year,” says Dr. Gregorio. “Our 100,000th—or IR100K—is a cross between the high-yielding NSICRc 214 and IR09M105, a high-nutrient variety.”

One of those who witnessed the unveiling of IR100K was retired assistant scientist Rizal Herrera. Mr. Herrera joined IRRI in 1961 as farm aide, and soon after, transferred to the laboratories. He was one of the first who made crosses at IRRI. “I made my first cross in 1971, and came up with the idea of the vacuum emasculator—a device that made our breeding work 50% more productive.” Mr. Herrera shared.

More than four decades since the release of the first IRRI-bred variety—IR8, or "miracle rice"—IRRI continues to take to heart the principles of its foundation: to help secure food for humanity.

Eero Nissila, head of IRRI's breeding division, noted during a short speech in the ceremony that IRRI has released close to 900 varieties all over the world.

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