Establishment of standard for screening for cold tolerance cultivars in rice in Ethiopia, Africa, collaboration with Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research and Iwate University, Japan


Faculty of Agriculture Department of Plant-bioscience
Professor SHIMONO Hiroyuki
Crop science

A collaborative research team consisting of Professor Hiroyuki Shimono of the Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Plant Life Sciences, Iwate University, Researcher Mr. Habtamu Assega Alemayehu of the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, and Researcher Dr. Akira Abe of the Iwate Bioengineering Research Center has been evaluated firstly 18 Ethiopian local rice cultivars of cold tolerance for inducing male sterility induced by low temperatures during the reproductive stage. This result is expected to promote future breeding of new varieties adapting the low temperature conditions in Ethiopia. Iwate University is contributing to SDGs of sustainable food production at the forefront of agricultural fields in Africa.

The results of this research were published in the international academic journal Field Crops Research on March 1, 2021.
Open access:


Male sterility induced by low temperatures during reproductive development is the major constraint on rice production in Ethiopia, which generally lies at high elevations. Because of a lack of phenotyping facilities, limited information is available on the cold tolerance of Ethiopian germplasm. We evaluated the genotypic variation in cold tolerance of 18 Ethiopian rice cultivars in two phenotyping facilities and characterized their cold tolerance in relation to their reproductive morphology in a 2-year trial in Japan. Genotypic variation in spikelet fertility was high after exposure to cold during reproductive development at both facilities, with fertility ranging from 0% to 90 %. 'Andassa' and 'Tana' had the highest fertility and 'Fogera 2' and 'Getachew' had the lowest. The two cold-tolerant germplasms had tolerance similar to that of the Japanese 'Hitomebore' (strong), whereas the susceptible germplasms had tolerance similar to that of the Japanese 'Sasanishiki' (weak). The variation in spikelet fertility was explained by both anther length and number of fertile pollen grains per anther under cold stress, and by anther length under unstressed control conditions in both years of the study; longer anther length and higher fertile pollen number leads to stronger cold tolerance. Our results suggest that anther length under unstressed conditions offers a pre-screening criterion for cold tolerance without requiring phenotyping facilities for screening.

Talks with Ethiopian farmer during a visit to Ethiopia (September 19, 2019)
Lecturing Ethiopian researchers on sampling methods From left: Researcher Dr. Tilahun Tadesse (4th author), Professor Shimono, Researcher Mr. Habtamu Assega (first author)