Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Chinese Version)


rice; cereal crops; complex traits; molecular modules; molecular module-based designer breeding

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Cultivation of cereal crops including rice, started in China over 8000 years ago, and Chinese knowledge of crop breeding has great impact on cereal production of the whole world. As of the early 1990s, scientists from Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS), representing China as one of the sponsor countries, joined the International Rice Genome Project and were in charge of sequencing Chromosome 4 of "geng" rice and the whole genome of "xian" rice 93-11, which marked the beginning of the serial efforts from Chinese plant science community to develop rice into a model crop/plant to study genomic and molecular basis underlying complex traits. As a grand effort to translate and assemble the knowledge and know-hows gained from the basic research into crop breeding, CAS launched a national programme called the Innovation System of Designer Breeding by Molecular Modules five years ago. The programme used rice as a model crop to dissect molecular modules controlling complex traits including yield, yield stability, grain quality, and crop nutrient use efficiency, study the coupling and interactions of the molecular modules, and develop molecular module-based designer breeding systems. The programme also aimed to set rice as a reference to promote the study of complex traits and designer breeding of other related crops and animals such as wheat, soybean, and fish. Through collaborative researches and coherent team work, the programme has built up shared national rice germplasm libraries and genomic databases, dissected a series of molecular modules applicable in designer breeding, and established theoretic framework for simultaneous improvement of both yield and quality traits, cold perception and resistance, balance between broad spectrum durable disease resistance and yield, nitrogen use efficiency, as well as heterosis of yield traits. Such achievements further experimentally validated the concept of Designer Breeding by Molecular Modules. The importance of these achievements were highlighted by the winning of the top ten advances of Chinese Life Sciences in 2015 and 2017, the top ten advances of Chinese Sciences in 2016, and the First Prize of National Natural Science Award in 2017, respectively.

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Bulletin of Chinese Academy of Sciences


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