Rice is the staple food for more than half of the world’s population. Thus, improvements in rice production to stabilize and enhance the crop are critical for global food security. The NIFA National Research Initiative Plant Genome Program has funded many projects to develop tools that are now available to examine and validate the function of the estimated 41,000 genes hypothesized to be present in rice. These tools are employed by many projects worldwide including the NIFA Rice Coordinated Agricultural Project.
A publication in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics by Pam Ronald and colleagues at the University of California-Davis presents a comprehensive review of new genomic methods including rice whole-genome microarrays, genome tiling arrays, genome-wide gene-indexed mutant collections, gene-silencing tools, transient assay systems, integration of gene-expression profiling, insertional mutant analyses, and phylogenomics. These tools and approaches have broad practical knowledge for developing a thorough understanding of how rice genes function and the impact they have on important complex traits.