Jaeki Chang, visiting scientist from Korea, amplifying DNA samples with custom primers for further laboratory evaluation

The Rice Research Unit operates under the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) , one of the Research, Education and Economics (REE) agencies. The ARS is the main in-house research arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Rice Research Unit is located on the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Beaumont, TX, a part of the Texas A&M University System (TAMU).The Rice Research Unit is national in scope and serves the entire U.S. rice industry. The mission of the Rice Research Unit is to:

  • Utilize all available and appropriate technologies to develop broadly useful rice germplasm

  • Develop superior quality, short-season rice varieties with high yield, disease and pest resistances, and desirable agronomic traits for the Southern U.S.

  • Conduct basic investigations of breeding methodology, grain quality characteristics, host parasite disease reactions, and mechanisms of virulence of pathogenic agents for controlling rice field pests

  • Identify, adapt, and evaluate new breeding methods, e.g. biotechnology, for use in varietal improvement programs

  • Identify and evaluate the cooking, nutritional, and processing qualities of new rice varieties and selections developed by U.S. public rice breeders in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas

  • Control rice diseases by use of selective germplasm and biological methods

Programs

The Variety Improvement Program develops new rice varieties for production in the Southern U.S. These cultivars are improved for production traits like yield potential, disease resistance, lodging resistance, maturity, second crop potential, and tolerance to insect pressure.
The Pathology Program focuses on evaluation of rice germplasm for resistance to blast (Pyricularia grisea) and sheath blight (Rhizoctonia solani) diseases, and on the population dynamics of blast pathotypes in the southern U.S. and California.

Shannon with Senior Biological Technician Faye Seaberg, looking at rice seedlings that are being evaluated for resistance to Liberty herbicide

The Rice Quality Program aims to develop a better understanding of cooking and processing traits of importance to the rice industry, to establish rapid screening methods for these traits, and to evaluate U.S. breeding lines to insure that all future U.S. varieties has quality traits acceptable to the industry.

Joseph Moore counting germinated seedlings in the Genetic's Lab

The Genetics Program evaluates traits of interest to breeders and producers, such as yield and grain quality. The Genetics Program uses traditional methods and biotechnology to develop new knowledge and techniques that facilitate the incorporation of desired genes into U.S. rice varieties. 
The Molecular Breeding Program utilizes DNA marker technology to aid the efficient and effective incorporation of valuable traits into improved rice cultivars.