Has the introduction of modern rice varieties changed rice genetic diversity in a high-altitude region of Nepal?
We surveyed the uptake of three modern rice varieties by farmers in high-altitude villages in the Kaski district of Nepal and found that their uptake had displaced some traditional landraces in the district. The three varieties, Machhapuchhre-3 (M-3), Machhapuchhre-9 (M-9) and Lumle 2, were developed using client-oriented, participatory plant breeding methods and the first was introduced to farmers in 1996. By 2004 up to 60% of the land area was used to grow these modern varieties. Molecular markers (SSR) were used to assay levels of genetic diversity to test if adoption of modern varieties in the place of landraces had changed genetic diversity. The modern varieties were found to contain diverse alleles with a high proportion from the local parent variety, Chhomrong Dhan. We found a high level of allelic richness in the landraces, and although seven had been dropped in favour of the modern varieties, other diverse landraces were still being cultivated by farmers in the study villages on up to 40% of the rice area. Genetic diversity may be maintained even when landraces are displaced by modern varieties. Using a model we found that the partial replacement of landraces increased genetic diversity if the modern varieties were adopted on up to 65% of the area. Only above these levels did overall diversity decline.
Steele, K.A.; Gyawali, S.; Joshi, K.D.; Shrestha, P.; Sthapit, B.R.; Witcombe, J.R. Has the introduction of modern rice varieties changed rice genetic diversity in a high-altitude region of Nepal? Field Crops Research (2009) 113 (1) 24-30. [DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2009.04.002]