Plant geneticist engineering Vietnam’s rice of the future

10:09 | 23/07/2019 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Prof. Nguyen Thi Lang from the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute, who recently won the Tran Dai Nghia Award for outstanding scientific research, has made great efforts to develop salinity-resistant quality high-yield rice varieties.

plant geneticist engineering vietnams rice of the future

The development of salinity-resistant rice varieties is of great significance for the Mekong Delta - a key rice production region. Although the region supplies more than 90 percent of the nation’s rice, it is one of three deltas severely affected by climate change. To ensure rice supplies and help farmers earn trillions of Vietnamese dong in profits each year, Lang has conducted scientific research activities to create salinity-resistant rice varieties with high productivity and good quality.

The search for new rice varieties, which can adapt to climate change is not only an urgent, difficult and challenging task for Lang, but also a source of great personal interest and satisfaction for her. In more than 25 years, Lang has created some 73 rice varieties, of which some 31 have been recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and planted in the Mekong Delta. In addition, 106 promising rice varieties are in the process of national testing.

One of her outstanding achievements is the successful development of salinity-resistant rice varieties originating in “ghost rice”, which is a species of wild rice mainly found in the Mekong Delta. The wild species has many dominant characteristics in its resistance against disease, harsh climatic conditions, and overall survival. It has survived for years regardless of drought, flood, poor water quality and disease. Being aware of the special qualities of so-called “ghost rice”, Lang and her husband went to the Mekong Delta wetland of Dong Thap Muoi to study how to combine its superior qualities with high-yield rice varieties to create a new variety.

After more than 10 years of research, a new rice variety catalogued AS996 (OM2424) was created. In addition to growing in alkaline soil with less phosphate, it is resistant to salt and brown plant hopper, develops well in different areas, and has high output. It has become a standard variety due to its resistance to harsh conditions. Dozens of additional varieties based on the same principle followed, among them OM4498, OM5930, OM4900 and OM6073.

So far, Lang has created 24 rice varieties recognized as national varieties. She is doing research on other rice varieties, which have high nutrient content and are resistant to many species of insects, diseases, drought, flood, heat and salt. In addition, she has also built technical processes and advanced production models for some fruit and vegetables in order to create clean food sources for consumption and exports.

Speaking at the Tran Dai Nghia Award Presenting Ceremony, Prof. Nguyen Thi Lang said she would continue to conduct scientific research activities to create breakthroughs in the agricultural sector that can be applied to production. “I always think about how to improve the value of rice,” Lang said.

The Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) honored four outstanding highly applicable scientific

researches studies with the Tran Dai Nghia Award at a ceremony in Hanoi on May 17. In addition to the rice research,

the winners include a study for producing A/H5N1 avian influenza vaccine, a study on special materials serving the

production of combat support equipment for soldiers, and technology for treating hazardous industrial and medical

waste.

Quynh Nga