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UK researchers to lead UK-China-Thailand-Philippines-Vietnam partnership of crucial research to underpin the long-term sustainable future of rice

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News from: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
News from: Newton Fund

Today BBSRC has announced a total of 13 projects to be funded through the Newton Fund's UK-China-Thailand-Philippines-Vietnam Sustainable Rice Programme, across a range of research areas, to underpin the long-term sustainable production of rice.


Rice is the staple food of over half the world's population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize (corn) 5% (source: Rice is Life; Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations. 2004).

Projects led by leading UK bioscience researchers and institutions include both bilateral and multilateral teams, involving research teams in China, the Philippines, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam.

Following announcement of the successful projects a grant-holders workshop will be held from 9-11 January 2017. This will be attended by around 70 leading and early career researchers from China, the Philippines, Thailand, the UK and Vietnam, working on the projects funded under this programme. Also in attendance will be representatives from the funding agencies involved in the initiative, and representatives from the British Embassy and RCUK China teams.

The Sustainable Rice Programme has enjoyed a high profile within the Newton Fund Programme as a whole, due to its innovative mix of regional and country approaches addressing core challenges for global and regional food security in a changing climate and developing resilience to crop pests and diseases.

The programme funders were pleased to see 13 projects funded, addressing a broad range of important issues such as rice quality, resource use and photosynthetic efficiency, resilience to biotic and abiotic stresses, and novel research tool and technology development, all of which will enhance the sustainable production of rice.

Speaking on behalf of BBSRC, Professor Melanie Welham, Chief Executive of BBSRC said: “It is critically important for regional co-operation to address the big questions in food security in the face of a changing world climate. We are delighted that this initiative has successfully brought together funders from all countries and is priming partnerships across this region that will, no doubt, lead to similarly important future research collaborations”.

The 13 projects that have been funded are:

  1. Molecular characterization and genetic analysis of nutritional components of Philippine indigenous pigmented rice germplasm
    Dr Lesley Boyd, National Institute of Agricultural Botany – £644,834
  2. Super-Rice: a UK-China collaboration to improve rice Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE)
    Professor Nicholas Harberd, University of Oxford – £598,136
  3. Real time deployment of pathogen resistance genes in rice
    Dr Frank van den Bosch, Rothamsted Research – £479,403
  4. Climate ready rice: Optimising transpiration to protect rice yields under abiotic stresses
    Professor Julie Gray, The University of Sheffield – £789,275
  5. Rice Research Newton Fund: Exploiting a cyanobacterial carbon dioxideconcentrating mechanism to increase photosynthesis and yield in rice
    Professor Martin Parry, Lancaster University – £341,221
  6. Developing rice with increased resistance to salinity and drought
    Dr Frans Maathuis, University of York – £684,773
  7. Developing rice resources for resilience to climate change and mitigation of carbon emission
    Professor Simon McQueen-Mason, University of York – £787,883
  8. Rhizo-Rice: a novel ideotype for deeper roots and improved drought tolerance
    Dr Jonathan Lynch, The University of Nottingham – £325,299
  9. Maintaining rice reproduction under high temperature stress: identifying mechanisms and germplasm to increase crop resilience.
    Professor Zoe A Wilson, The University of Nottingham – £445,553
  10. A 3D model of photosynthesis to inform breeding for improved rice performance in a changing climate
    Professor Andrew James Fleming, The University of Sheffield – £572,486
  11. Sequencing and exploitation of the genetic diversity in Vietnamese native rice lines to serve research and breeding programs
    Professor Mario Caccamo, National Institute of Agricultural Botany – £431,747
  12. Large scale dynamic integration of proteomics and genomics to support next-generation rice research
    Professor Andrew Jones, University of Liverpool – £152,141
  13. Enhanced Rice quality for Health (EnRicH)
    Dr Alison Lovegrove, Rothamsted Research – £493,525


Note to editors

For further information please visit our Newton Fund UK-China-Philippines-Thailand-Vietnam call for collaborative research proposals in rice research funding page.


BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by government, BBSRC invested £473 million in world-class bioscience, people and research infrastructure in 2015-16. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
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