Rice breeding lines that resist a costly disease, as well as lines with desirable grain characteristics, have been identified by Agricultural Research Service scientists in Arkansas.

Wengui Yan, a research geneticist at the ARS Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, Ark., leads efforts to analyze the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rice Core Collection. With 1,791 entries, this gene bank has been estimated to contain more than 70 percent of the genetic variation in the National Small Grains Collection's 18,408 rice accessions.

Utilizing the core collection, scientists identified germplasm accessions that are very resistant, or even immune, to straighthead, a plant disease that causes the entire rice head to remain upright at maturity with sterile florets and reduced grain yield.