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Nutritious Rice Project on IBM World Community Grid Yields Promising Results

Nutritious Rice Project on IBM World Community Grid Yields Promising Results

Published 12-10-08

Submitted by IBM

ARMONK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 12/10/08 -- The landmark project between IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the University of Washington to develop new strains of rice that could produce crops with larger and more nutritious yields is now set to analyze data on the genes -- three months ahead of schedule. The research will focus on analyzing data that has been prioritized as promising by both the University of Washington in Seattle and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines.

Researchers will now begin to analyze the results while data continues to be collected on the rest of the proteins, according to IBM.

"While headlines about rice shortages have declined, the problem is still very real," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM Vice President of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs. "More than 400,000 volunteers have already contributed 9,000 years of computer time to this project, and individual computers have processed more than 10 million transactions."

"Improving strains of rice to yield larger, more resilient, and nutritionally-optimized harvests will positively impact the lives of billions of people. This is a first-of-a-kind solution that demonstrates how a smart application of technology can offer a game-changing solution that can potentially create a greater change in society and how it deals with food issues."

The project is studying the structures of the proteins that make up the building blocks of rice. This will help identify the function of those proteins and enable researchers to identify which proteins could help produce more rice grains, ward off pests, resist disease or hold more nutrients. In the end, this project will create the largest and most comprehensive map of rice proteins and their related functions, helping rice researchers pinpoint which plants should be selected for cross-breeding to cultivate better crops.

"The community response to this project has been phenomenal. IBM's World Community Grid exceeds our expectations of computational power and makes scientific dreams a reality," said Michal Guerquin, project lead at the University of Washington.

IBM's World Community Grid is a virtual supercomputer created by individuals who donate their unused computer time to tackle complex calculations to accelerate scientific research. World Community Grid is collecting data for 30,000 to 60,000 different protein structures.

Anyone with a computer and Internet access can be a part of the solution. To donate unused computer time, individuals register on and install a free, small, secure software program onto their computers. When computers are idle, data is requested from World Community Grid's server. These computers then perform the computations, and send the results back to the server, prompting it for a new piece of work. A screen saver will tell individuals when their computers are being used.

World Community Grid, the largest public humanitarian grid in existence, has 430,000-plus members who represent more than 200 countries and links to more than one million computers.

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