National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement is located in Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Approved by State Planning Commission, the Laboratory was officially established in 1992, with co-funding by the Ministry of Agriculture. The Laboratory consists of three divisions: Germplasm Enhancement and Breeding Theory, Cell Engineering, and Molecular Biology. Currently, it has a staff of 79 members, including 71 researchers from two Colleges of the University, 6 technicians and 2 administrators, and provides spaces and training for over 800 graduate students toward both Master and Ph D degrees in biology and crop science. The current director is Professor Xiong Lizhong, and the Chairman of the Academy Committee is Professor Zhang Qifa.
The overall goals of the Laboratory are to solve fundamental scientific problems in genetics, physiologic, and crop improvement by combining biotechnology with conventional genetic analysis and breeding, to develop new strategies and critical technologies for breeding applications, and to breed novel germplasms and new varieties. The research activities cover a number of major crops including rice, rapeseed, cotton and maize, at molecular, cellular, individual and population levels. The research areas of the Laboratory include: (1) Functional genomics（functional genomic research platform, gene cloning, and functional genomics of agricultural importance; (2) Biological mechanisms and utilization of heterosis; (3) Germplasm evaluation and enhancement; (4) Breeding technology and varietal development; and (5) Physiological basis of genetic improvement. The major target traits include yield, product quality, insect and disease resistance, drought resistance and nutrition efficiency.
Progresses made in the past years have received international recognition in a number of research fields including: (1) Discovery of Pol cytoplasm male sterility in B. napus that has been widely used in hybrid breeding programs of B. napus and Cruciferae vegetables in the world; (2) Establishment of perfect technological platforms for rice functional genomic studies including T-DNA insertional mutant libraries, cDNA microarray, full-length cDNAs and related bioinformatic platforms; (3) Genetic and molecular basis of heterosis in rice and rapeseed; (4) Cloning and functional characterization of genes for agronomically important traits toward the goals of GSR(Green Super Rice) development; (5) Somatic hybridization between upland cotton and wild cotton; (6) Development of crop varieties by combining conventional breeding with molecular marker and transgenic technologies and widely application of the varieties for commercial production (for example, oil-seed rape hybrids have been planted in a total planting area of more than 1 million hectares annually).
The Laboratory was rated “excellent” in the past four consecutive nationwide evaluations (in year 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016 respectively) organized by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.