Plant Molecular Biology

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 547–570 | Cite as

Genetic and genomic approaches to develop rice germplasm for problem soils

  • Abdelbagi M. IsmailEmail author
  • Sigrid Heuer
  • Michael J. Thomson
  • Matthias Wissuwa


Soils that contain toxic amounts of minerals or are deficient in essential plant nutrients are widespread globally and seriously constrain rice production. New methods are necessary to incorporate the complex adaptive traits associated with tolerance of these abiotic stresses, while simultaneously retaining the high yield potential of rice varieties when conditions are favorable. Significant progress in the genetic characterization of stress response pathways and recent advances in genomics have provided powerful tools for in-depth dissection of tolerance mechanisms. Additionally, tolerance of most of these abiotic stresses in rice is controlled by a few QTLs with large effects despite the intricacy of the numerous traits involved. Genetic dissection of these QTLs and their incorporation into high-yielding varieties will significantly enhance and stabilize rice productivity in these problem soils. Current efforts at IRRI and in rice breeding programs worldwide are seeking to explore diverse germplasm collections and genetically dissect the causal mechanisms of tolerance to facilitate their use in breeding. This review focuses on salinity and P and Zn deficiency as the major problems encountered in rice soils, and examines current understanding of the mechanisms involved and efforts toward germplasm improvement.


Abiotic stresses Marker-assisted breeding Problem soils Oryza sativa Rice Salinity 



The authors are grateful to Drs Hei Leung and David J. Mackill for their helpful comments and discussion during the preparation of this review and for critically reading the manuscript. Research on problem soils at IRRI is partially supported by the Generation Challenge Program (Project 2) and the Linkage program to strengthen International Rice Functional Genomics Consortium supported by USAID.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abdelbagi M. Ismail
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sigrid Heuer
    • 1
  • Michael J. Thomson
    • 1
  • Matthias Wissuwa
    • 2
  1. 1.International Rice Research InstituteMetro ManilaPhilippines
  2. 2.Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)TsukubaJapan

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