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The Neurice project has registered 6 salt-tolerant rice varieties

  • 2 have been registered in Spain, 2 in France and 2 in Italy
  • The Neurice project brings new tools to the rice sector to fight climate change and apple snails
  • In addition, hundreds of rice varieties have been sequenced, seeking new genes related to salinity tolerance and improving the varietal lines obtained in the future.


Thousands of varieties have been obtained over the 4 years of the Neurice (New commercial EUropean RICE) project and will end this February. Of these, 6 varieties have already begun the process of varietal registration to be legally marketed. A total of 13 participants, from Universities, research centers and companies, from Spain, France, Italy, England, Argentina and China, have participated in the project.

In the first phase, researchers introduced salinity tolerance alleles into some local rice varieties used in Spain, Italy and France. The technique used to do this has been called genetic introgression (which is a classic non-transgenic genetic improvement technique). Once alleles were introduced into the local varieties, they were evaluated in a greenhouse in hydroponic in order to detect those that best tolerated salinity. Once evaluated in the greenhouse, those who performed best, were planted to see their agronomic behavior, comparing their results in salinized and non-salinized fields. Finally, of all those evaluated in the field, a total of 6 varieties are being commercially registered (2 in Spain, 2 in France and 2 in Italy).

In terms of rice production in our country, the IRTA and Càmara Arrossera del Montsià, have been responsible for assessing the local varieties that tolerate salinity and select the two that have behaved best, to carry -in the registry. In addition to their productivity results, they have also evaluated quality, nutritional value and performance in mill.

With this project, says his coordinator and Professor of Plant Physiology at the University of Barcelona, Salvador Nogués, we have managed to develop a set of rice varieties that are resistant to salinity, of which 6 have been chosen that have been brought to the register. These new varieties of rice will allow the sector to have new tools to combat the salinization of fields arising from rising sea levels due to climate change and to combat the apple snail plague.

In addition, within the Neurice project, hundreds of rice varieties have been sequenced in search of new genes related to salinity tolerance in order to improve the varietal lines obtained in the future, says Nogués. The next step, once submitted to registration, is to make them available to growers so they can be made available to rice producers by 2022.