Released on Feb. 21, 2014
Interspecific hybridization between Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) and African rice (Oryza glaberrima Steud.) started at Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice; former name: Western Africa Rice Development Association or WARDA) in early 1990s to produce a new plant type suited for rainfed conditions. The aim was to combine the high yield potential of O. sativa (based on high spikelet number caused by secondary branches on the panicle) and the useful traits of O. glaberrima (such as rapid leaf canopy establishment, high nitrogen responsiveness and resistance to major stresses, including drought, blast disease and iron toxicity).The BC2F1 progenies between some Asian Japonica-type rice varieties, namely, WAB56-50, WAB56-104 and WAB 181-18, which were bred in AfricaRice and used as the recurrent parents, and an African rice variety, CG14, were established and favorable lines were selected after fixation. The new plant types were then named as New Rice for Africa (NERICA) in 1998. The first seven varieties, NERICAs 1–7, were released by AfricaRice in 2000 and an additional 11 varieties, NERICAs 8–18, were released in 2005.
NERICAs were expected to have many favorite traits introduced from O. glaberrima into O. sativa genetic backgrounds. However, detailed characterization of agronomic traits and genetic factor(s) introgressed from O. glaberrima has not yet been fully analyzed. In addition, off types and segregation in morphological traits were observed in the breeder and foundation seeds of NERICAs 1–7 in AfricaRice. Seed purification of all NERICAs was conducted under a collaborative project between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and AfricaRice. Using these seeds, Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) started the evaluation of NERICAs in Japan. The activity was then extended for collaborative research between JIRCAS and AfricaRice. Agronomic traits of NERICAs have been characterized by comparing with several Asian rice varieties based on data collected from different regions: temperate (Tsukuba City in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan), subtropical (Ishigaki City in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan) and tropical regions (Abomey-Caravi, Bassila, Glazoue and Cobli in Benin, Africa). Other potentials of NERICAs, such as biotic and abiotic stress tolerance, are also of interest and further evaluation is ongoing.
In this version, primary datasets of agronomic traits (.pdf) of NERICAs collected in Tsukuba, Japan and some characterization results (.pdf) are provided as downloadable files. Datasets of agronomic traits collected in Africa and other useful traits such as stress tolerance will be provided through periodic updates.