Tremendous amount of genotypic (sequence) and phenotypic data from various rice research activities is being generated due to the availability of relatively low cost sequencing and high throughput phenotyping platforms. Comprehensive analysis of genome sequence data is expected to reveal the mechanisms for phenotypic variation in diverse rice germplasm. Many causative mutations are expected to be within promoter or other regulatory motifs rather than in the coding region of genes. Publicly available data from thousands of gene expression experiments should help in understanding the mechanism of gene-trait associations as well as in reconstructing gene networks.
Making effective use of these technological advances for crop improvement requires coordinated efforts by numerous public and private sector entities, including collaboration in data analysis and data sharing. We propose to establish an International Rice Informatics Consortium (IRIC) to build and maintain a global web portal to store, analyze and visualize available genotypic, phenotypic, expression and other rice data. This portal will be beneficial to a wide range of public and private sector research groups involved in plant research.
A sustainable support mechanism is needed for the initial development and continued operation and improvement of the IRIC portal, thus enhancing the understanding rice diversity, discovering genetic structures of modern cultivars, and finding new gene-trait associations.
The International Rice Research Institute will take on the responsibility of the initial launch and coordination of IRIC. Major strengths of IRRI and its contributions to IRIC include:
a. The world's largest rice seed collection is held in trust by IRRI
b. Pursuing high-throughput phenotyping projects
c. Genotyping and sequencing data for thousands of rice lines produced together with existing partners
d. Providing standard unique identifiers for rice germplasm
e. Worldwide research collaboration with public and private sector partners