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Oct. 27, 2020

Solutions to rice blast focus of FFTC-JIRCAS videoconference workshop

Solutions to rice blast focus of FFTC-JIRCAS videoconference workshop

Screenshot of the 15 speakers from 12 countries including FFTC Director Dr. Su-San Chang and Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe, together with the JIRCAS Secretariat. 

Rice blast, a plant pathogenic fungus was originally conceived to be the focus of a face-to-face workshop. However, the COVID-19 pandemic led the organizers to conduct the workshop on "Applicable Solutions Against Rice Blast in Asia"  both onsite (in Tsukuba, Japan) and online through the WebEx virtual meeting room. Attended by 15 speakers from 12 countries  (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam), the videoconference has 116 participants (107 online and 9 onsite).

The one-day online workshop consisted of an opening session, a keynote presentation, and three thematic sessions with 3-6 presentations followed by a panel discussion in each session. Online participants were grouped into panel (microphone on) and attendee (microphone muted) in the virtual meeting room.

The keynote presentation highlighted the 15-years of collective effort and results of the research network from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Lao PDR, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and international organizations working on rice. Under JIRCAS Blast Research Network, differential systems were developed and distributed. Knowledge on dominate blast races, genetic variations of resistance, and genotype(s) in rice cultivars were generated. In Session 1: “International differential variety and characterization of resistance genes” was addressed by researchers from JIRCAS, NARO and Aichi Research Institute, Japan. Topics on using LTH monogenic lines as differential variety set to evaluate rice blast fungus race, development of international differential varieties for blast disease, and using partial resistance genes in genetic improvement for resistance of panicle blast were discussed. 

Session 2, on the other hand, delved on “Pathological and genetic studies for durable protection system” and highlighted the current rice blast work at MARDI (Malaysia), RDA (Korea), KU (Thailand), TARI (Taiwan), and Yunnan Agricultural University, China. Five speakers reported on pathological and genetic diversity of blast isolates in their countries on the way to identify useful genes for rice varietal improvement against rice blast.

Session 3 was entitled “Blast studies using differential system” and included six country reports of the JIRCAS-Rice Blast Research Network. While the keynote presentation summarized the combined results of the pathogenicity of blast isolates and genetic variation of resistance of rice cultivars in all network countries, the session speakers shared the country-specific results of the study using similar study design and the differential system developed and distributed by the Project Network.

Based on the discussions during the one-day videoconference workshop, four major findings and recommendations were drawn out. To wit:

  • Recognize that the differential system is a fundamental and essential research tool used in rice blast pathological studies and breeding strategy development;
  • Construct durable protection system to blast disease using differential systems, international differential varieties, and breeding materials harboring partial resistance genes in collaboration with breeders, pathologists, agronomists among others for developing a stable rice production system;
  • Collaborate internationally, and share hybrid populations with collaborative institutes; activate germplasm exchange within the region as a shuttle breeding and consider genetic resource and credit sharing; and
  • Focus on the following areas of work for future research and development of the durable protection system against blast disease: (1) non-dominant blast race, (2) low virulence, (3) diversity of resistance in rice, (4) symbiosis between rice and blast fungus, and (5) artificial control of blast populations.
FFTC Director Dr. Su-San Chang (Right), in her opening remarks, said that although JIRCAS has already led a rice blast network and have amassed a lot of information on the disease, there is still so much to know and learn about rice blast particularly the practical and applicable solutions tailored fit for the Asian region. On the other hand, FFTC Deputy Director Dr. Akira Hasebe (Left), summarized the issues raised in  the discussion part of the workshop and acknowledged the important role of JIRCAS in the conduct of the videoconference.

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