Dr Bobby Caine
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology
Global Challenges Research Fellow, Dr Bobby Caine, from the University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food, will be travelling to the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam, working with Vietnamese researchers to improve rice performance in response to the adverse effects caused by climate change.
About Dr Bobby Caine's research:
"Rice is consumed by more people than any other food crop, feeding around 3.5 billion people around the world on a daily basis. In Vietnam, 28.5 million tonnes of rice are produced yearly leading to the country being the world’s third largest exporter. However, because rice requires a lot of water, it places a large strain fresh water reserves, and because climate-driven reductions in precipitation are already occurring, solutions are required to reduce rice water use. Moreover, a compounding factor is that Vietnam has vast areas which border the ocean, and due to sea level rises, saline water influxes are further reducing the amount of fresh water available for rice production.
"I will be travelling to the Mekong Delta region in southern Vietnam where I will work with Vietnamese researchers to improve rice performance in response to the adverse effects caused by climate change. Working together with colleagues at the High Agricultural Technology Research Institute (HATRI), I will survey different rice varieties using state of the art techniques to identify rice lines which use less water. Specifically, I will be studying little pores on the rice leaf epidermis called stomata which control carbon uptake and regulate water loss. Using genetic modification, we have found that when the number of stomata are reduced, water and salt uptake are reduced, and so plants can survive longer with less water or high salt concentration. I aim to find natural rice varieties with fewer stomata which can then be used for crossing into elite varieties that already have the highest yields. This technique should maintain water in the soil and enable rice to grow in high salt concentrations.
"I’m delighted to have been awarded this Global Challenge Fellowship. This opportunity will enable me to begin to work independently, explore my own ideas and manage my own project. Further to this, I will be collaborating with a multi-disciplinary group of people located both in the UK and in Vietnam, so I’m very much looking forward to finding out more information and applying techniques learnt from the various disciplines concerned. I am particularly looking forward to getting to Vietnam and implementing my ideas in the field."