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New wild rice reserve found in S China island province

(Xinhua)

15:57, December 30, 2011

HAIKOU, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- Scientists have discovered a new wild rice reserve in Haikou, capital city of China's southernmost island province of Hainan, which is expected to provide genes useful in improving the quality of China's cultivation of high-yield rice.

Yin Ming, head of the Super Rice Research Center under the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Xinhua on Friday that his research team is extracting DNA from the new wild rice species for breeding.

Yin said he would not rule out of the possibility of cooperating with Yuan Longping, the well-regarded "father of hybrid rice," to use the new rice species in research.

He said the recently discovered wild rice has an average straw height of 1.6 meters and 15-cm-long rice ears, and is much more robust than ordinary rice.

"The wild rice can grow in rainwater runoff under an expressway viaduct, which suggests strong disease resistance and water tolerance in adapting to the environment," Yin said.

Dubbed the "Giant Panda of the botanical world," wild rice is under state protection in China, and the tropical island of Hainan is known as a "gene bank" for wild rice.

However, with the fast rate of urbanization, the number of wild rice reserves in the province has dropped from over 100 to less than 20 in just under a decade, said Yin.

Chinese scientists led by Yuan have conducted world-leading research in using wild rice to develop high-yield hybrid rice, offering hope for solving the world's food shortage crisis.

Yuan's operation, conducted in Longhui county, Hunan province in September, produced a harvest of 5,625.98 kg per acre, renewing his rice output world record.

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