Search site

IRRI collaborates with Computomics to develop new and better rice varieties through machine learning

31 October 2018, Los Banos, Philippines - The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is teaming up with Germany-based biotechnology company Computomics GmbH to use the latest bioinformatics tools to speed up data analysis and advance rice breeding efforts.

This innovative research partnership, formalized on 9 October 2018, will combine the strengths of both organizations to mine the big data available at IRRI, and use it to optimize the development of improved rice varieties to deliver increased yields, better nutritional content, or stronger resilience to environmental stresses brought about by climate change.

IRRI’s sixty years of expertise and rice breeding information will be harnessed by Computomics’ artificial intelligence systems, where powerful deep learning algorithms will process and analyze billions of phenotypic, genotypic, grain quality, progeny, and environmental data, and score millions of potential new rice crosses and varieties. IRRI will then produce, test, and develop the highest-scoring varieties utilizing the germplasm and resources of the International Rice Genebank. The field testing of those new varieties, and corresponding results, will help improve new cycles of Computomics’ algorithms, in an iterative process.

“Computomics has positioned itself to be flexible to meet the unique demands of each project thanks to our specialists and co-founders, who are able to bring together the diverse datasets of this project in a single analysis pipeline,” says Dr. Sebastian J. Schultheiss, CEO of Computomics. “We like to take on challenges and are excited to develop new rice varieties with IRRI. IRRI’s breeders and bioinformaticians know what they want to get out of their data and we are excited to apply our machine learning algorithms to help realize the full potential of this impressive collection of rice breeding data.”

“Computomics’ well-established capabilities in bioinformatics and AI, and their focus on plant genomic analysis makes them the ideal partner in maximizing the potential of IRRI’s extensive research data, genetic resources, and expertise in rice breeding,” says Remy Bitoun, Head of IRRI Tech Transfer. “Increasing genetic progress is critical to rice food security, and this collaboration is designed to hasten the development of much-needed improved rice varieties, benefitting not just rice breeders, but ultimately farmers and consumers all over the world.”

About Computomics GmbH

Computomics utilizes cutting edge bioinformatics tools to offer highly accurate, customized analysis services to companies across the globe. We help navigate the complexities of all genomes. Our advanced machine learning methods enable rapid understanding of genomic data for agricultural, biotech, microbiome, and metabolomics researchers. We provide our clients with thorough consultation on their sequencing projects, with in-depth analysis of their genomic data, and with comprehensive reports.

About the International Rice Research Institute

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) aims to improve livelihoods and nutrition, abolishing poverty, hunger and malnutrition among those who depend on rice-based agri-food systems. In doing so, IRRI’s work protects the health of rice farmers and consumers, and the environmental sustainability of rice farming in a world challenged by climate change. IRRI’s work promotes the empowerment of women and supports opportunities for youth in an equitable agri-food system.