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Winners of the International Year of Rice Global Scientific Contest Announced
Research on genetic diversity, disease control, and the rice genome earn international acclaim
6 October 2004, Rome -- Scientists from China and from Japan have won the International Year of Rice (IYR) Global Scientific Contest, FAO and IRRI jointly announced today.

After seeking the nominations of over 800 rice scientists and researchers worldwide through a survey, FAO and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have recognized Dr. Youyong Zhu, President of Yunnan Agricultural University in China and Dr. Takuji Sasaki, Director of the Genome Research Department at the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS) in Japan, for their contribution to the advancement of rice research.

The paper by Dr. Youyong Zhu and his research team, "Genetic diversity and disease control in rice", has been awarded first prize in the rice agronomy category. The article by Dr. Takuji Sasaki and his team, "The genome sequence and structure of rice chromosome 1", has been awarded first prize in the rice breeding category.

Dr. Zhu's article found that utilizing genetic heterogeneity (variability within rice varieties) can effectively reduce the severity of rice blast, a major disease affecting rice crops. The research provides an ecological approach to disease control that can be highly effective when applied over a large area.

"Both papers clearly deserve their respective awards not only for the scientific excellence but also because of their potential impact and importance to the international rice industry," Ronald P. Cantrell, the IRRI director general said. "The fact that these awards were given based on the judgement of their peers is also something Drs Sasaki and Zhu can be justifiably very proud of."

Dr. Sasaki's paper reported successful identification of the essentially complete sequence of chromosome 1, the longest chromosome in the rice genome. This breakthrough will assist breeders in determining gene function, and thereby make it possible to more efficiently identify and select rice varieties with beneficial traits.

"The successful mapping of the rice genome will assist plant breeders in their efforts to develop rice varieties with increased yield potential, resistance to stress, and improved nutrient content," said Louise Fresco, FAO Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture Department. "Furthermore, a better understanding of genetic diversity and heterogeneity in rice is very relevant to sustainable production."

Drs. Zhu and Sasaki will be recognized at a special ceremony on the occasion of World Food Day, 14 October 2004, in Rome. They will be presented with medals on behalf of their research and writing teams.

The article published by Dr. Youyong Zhu et al ("Genetic diversity and disease control in rice") can be found in Nature, Volume 406 (August 2000): 718-722.

Dr. Takuji Sasaki et al have published their article on "The genome sequence and structure of rice chromosome 1" in Nature, Volume 420 (November 2002): 312-320.

Contact:
Brian Barbour
IYR Correspondent
brian.barbour@fao.org
(+39) 06 570 53069

Contact:

Brian Barbour
IYR Correspondent
brian.barbour@fao.org
(+39) 06 570 53069

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Winners of the International Year of Rice Global Scientific Contest Announced
Research on genetic diversity, disease control, and the rice genome earn international acclaim
6 October 2004 -- Scientists from China and from Japan have won the International Year of Rice (IYR) Global Scientific Contest, FAO and IRRI jointly announced today.
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