In this six minute video, Cornell University Professor Susan McCouch and graduate student Janelle Jung discuss the use of wild relatives in breeding highly productive rice varieties.

McCouch approximates that perhaps 40% of the useful diversity held within wild ancestors of Asian rice (Oryza sativa) has been used in breeding programs.  That means that 60% remains to be explored, and for the great majority of other crops, the percentage of un-utilized diversity is probably much higher.

As with her earlier research on wild tomatoes, she describes that hidden within the low yielding and generally unattractive phenotypes of wild relatives are ‘cryptic alleles’ that can make highly productive modern varieties even more productive.

More info on Susan McCouch can be found here.

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