Rice Genetic Diversity How Much Where Cost

Chang (1992) estimates the total accessions of rice in all germplasm banks to be 250,000. Of these, there were approximately 120,000 distinct accessions and 5000 wild accessions. Chang estimates that 10% of landraces remain uncollected.

The International Rice Genebank (IRG) at IRRI has more than 82,000 registered accessions, and of these almost 3000 are wild species and 1300 are O. glaberrima. If we take varietal name as an indicator, about 50,000 of the O. sativa accessions are unique (M. Jackson, personal communication, 1996). China has a collection of 61,000 accessions at the China National Rice Research Institute near Hangzhou, and the US has a collection of 16,476 accessions (N. Rutger, personal communication, 1996). There are also large germplasm collections in India, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan and another collections of wild-rice germplasm at the National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Japan (Oka, 1991). ORSTOM and IRAT-CIRAD have about 4000 samples of seeds of wild and cultivated African rice and some Asian landraces that have been cultivated for a long time in Africa (Board on Science and Technology for International Development, 1996, p. 31).

Small scale efforts at in situ preservation of germplasm are being tried by some government research programmes and by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Jackson (personal communication, 1996) reports some attempts to preserve wild species in Thailand and attempts by NGOs to preserve landraces in the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

Landraces remain to be collected in remote areas. One country in particular where there is much diversity is Laos. IRRI is collecting samples there now. Wild species still have not been extensively collected in Australia, East, Central and South Africa, and South America. In some Asian countries there are still areas where collection remains to be done (Jackson, personal communication, 1996).

The cost of maintaining the IRG is about $700,000 annually. The cost of all rice germplasm collections is approximately $3-4 million (Evenson 1996).

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