The Texas A&M AgriLife Beaumont Research Center is an international leader in the development of improved rice cultivars, rice production management systems, and quantitative analysis of cropping system interactions. Researchers at the Beaumont Center are recognized for the development and use of marker- and model-assisted selection methods and are credited with major research efforts in developing bioenergy crop production and management systems.
The Beaumont Center is located in the Upper Gulf Coast region of Texas, which positions the center to focus on high-yield, semi-dwarf rice cultivars, and superior rice production and management programs that are suited to the Gulf Coast environment. Finding ways to better grow rice, soybeans, sugarcane, energycane, and biomass sorghum, are all part of the Beaumont Center’s research.
Key Research Areas
- All aspects of rice production and management from genetic improvement, agronomic and pest management, to integrated systems analysis.
- Major aspects of soybeans sugarcane, energycane, and biomass sorghum production, management, and life cycle analysis.
- Beaumont Center researchers developed Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s first rice cultivars, which have a 5% yield advantage compared to currently grown varieties which has the potential to increase statewide production revenue by $1.22 million per year.
- The Beaumont Center is a leader in the development of cost-effective and sustainable rice integrated pest management (IPM) production system.
- Beaumont center scientists identified antioxidants that reduce the effects of reactive oxidative species by preventing damage to rice cell membranes. Experiments have shown a 5.7% increase in yield, which if applied to the entire Texas population would have a value of $9.26 million per year.
- Beaumont center scientists are leaders in the development of organic rice production systems.
Developing improved rice cultivars for yield and quality performance :
Dr. Rodante Tabien and Lloyd T. (Ted) Wilson released ‘Colorado’ and ‘Antonio’ in 2012, which are the first inbred rice cultivars developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Research. They are also the first cultivars of any crop species developed using marker-and model-assisted selection.
Drs. Wilson and Dr. Omar Samonte, now with the California rice breeding program, began laying the foundation for a hybrid rice-breeding program in 2007. In 2015, Professor Yan joined the center and worked with Dr. Wilson to create over 300 parental lines. A strong partnership with the Texas Rice industry focuses on creating a cutting-edge hybrid-rice-breeding program built upon advanced phenotyping developed around both marker- and model-assisted trait selections.
Dr. Lee Tarpley is a co-leader in discovering molecular markers and genes that control the concentration of minerals affecting human nutrition in rice grains. This research represents the largest effort of its type for a crop species. The plant populations and physiology methods used at the Beaumont Center are unique tools aiding this gene discovery. The National Science Foundation recently funded a rare fifth-year creativity extension.
Developing improved cropping systems and pest-management programs:
Drs. Zhou, Fugen Dou, and M.O. Way lead a federally funded project to develop sustainable organic rice production using cover crops and soil amendments, the first of its kind in the U.S.
Dr. Way’s entomology research program led to the development of insecticidal seed treatments and the development of cost-effective and sustainable rice integrated pest management (IPM) production systems. Approximately 60% of Texas rice-producing acreage receives IPM treatments, which minimize pesticide drift.
Developing process-based crop models:
Drs. Wilson, Yang, and Dou have developed advanced process-based rice crop simulation models. This effort led to the first implementation of a marker- and model-assisted rice cultivar selection program. Process-based models allow clarification of genotype x environment interactions, which is not possible in models with less physiological detail.