Deepinder Grewal, plant breeder at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), discusses the testing of double haploid or DH japonica rice lines as donor lines for developing high-yielding indica rice varieties that have high iron and zinc content in the grain.
We have made significant progress in developing rice lines with enhanced zinc and iron content through the identification of suitable germplasm and breeding. Three lines of high-zinc rice developed by the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in collaboration with IRRI are now in advanced yield trials in Bangladesh. In collaboration with Bangladeshi institutions, the University of California at Davis, HarvestPlus, and other international organizations, researchers are investigating the bioavailability of zinc from conventionally bred rice. New varieties of high-zinc rice, expected to be available in Bangladesh and eastern India in 2012, may provide as much as 40% of the daily zinc requirement. The iron content of the rice grain has been increased (fourfold to 8 μg/g), but is still short of the 14 μg/g target set by HarvestPlus.