The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations. IRRI is an independent, nonprofit research and educational institute founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, with support from the Philippine government. The Institute, headquartered in Los Baños, Philippines, has offices in 15 rice-growing countries in Asia and Africa, and has more than 1,000 staff members of some 39 nationalities.
Core to IRRI’s mission of reducing poverty and hunger is ensuring the sustainability of rice farming in a world challenged by climate change. Climate change is a concern that cuts across the various areas of IRRI's research agenda, which is why a significant effort is being made by the Institute to develop climate-ready rice varieties, which requires cutting-edge scientific equipment and world-class research facilities.
Aiming to further research on conserving genetic diversity and biotechnology, the Lloyd T. Evans Plant Growth Facility (PGF) was constructed by IRRI with support from the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in 2016.
The PGF houses eight controlled-environment glasshouses, plant processing and potting laboratories, and large seed processing and storage. It also features optimum environment-friendly management support systems that employ rainwater capture and storage, natural ventilation, and other energy-saving technologies.
IRRI collaborated with Conviron for supply of its controlled-environment walk-in and reach-in plant growth chambers. The chambers enable researchers and scientists to precisely control temperature, relative humidity, light intensity, photoperiod, atmospheric gases, and water management systems; helping IRRI advance research on varietal development and finer farming practices.
Some of the experiments conducted using the Conviron chambers include: false smut disease and brown plant hopper related studies; heat and water stress studies; double haploid (DH) plants studies; high out-cross experiments; and salt tolerant screening at seedling and reproductive stages.
“With Conviron’s plant growth chambers, IRRI researchers and scientists are able to more closely nurture and study plants, specifically rice, under a wide range of environments,” said Dr. James Quilty, IRRI Platform Leader for Integrative Research Support.
“The plant growth chambers have contributed immensely to IRRI's research efforts on irrigated, rain-fed rice areas with special focus on marginal environments (drought, heat tolerant, salinity, to name a few) where the poorest people live,” remarked Dr. Gururaj Guddappa Kulkarni, Senior Scientist and Head of Research Infrastructure and Operations at IRRI.
Conviron’s plant growth chambers have made it easier for IRRI researchers and scientists to simulate various climate scenarios, helping them better examine and predict the impacts of climate change on rice growth and rice production. This is a crucial step toward the Institute’s ongoing effort to achieve food and nutrition security for future generations across the globe.