Nutritious Rice for the World

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 Ariel Javellana/International Rice Research Institute

On May 12, volunteers on the World Community Grid started crunching the numbers on a new project. Nutritious Rice for the World is an ambitious and long-term project to help farmers breed better rice strains. Currently, farmers can only select for traits that are readily apparent. The Nutritious Rice research team hopes to be able to place biological markers that would allow farmers to breed rice with more complicated traits, such as nutritional content or the ability to thrive in different environments.

The first step in all of this is to predict the protein structures from the DNA of various rice strains, a computationally intensive task. Nutritious Rice says that the task would take "decades of computing time on [their] best computer cluster," but they hope to accomplish this first step in about a year using the personal computers hooked up to the World Community Grid.

As always, the results of this research will be publicly available, so places like the International Rice Research Institute can use the information to bring new rice breeds into the countries that most need them. Check out their site for more information on our world's reliance on rice and on the recent spike in rice prices. To read more about how the World Community Grid can help, see the Nutritious Rice for the World project page . You can ask questions in the forum, read more about the project and its motivation and goals, or join the project. You can also find out more at the Nutritious Rice website at the University of Washington.

Maybe our little computers, working together, will provide the key to healthy and plentiful food for people across the world.

Image Source: Ariel Javellana/International Rice Research Institute, some rights reserved.