Ricardo M. Lantican

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Ricardo M. Lantican, Ph.D. (born January 8, 1933) is a Filipino scientist known for his researches on plant breeding. In 2005 he was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist, the highest honor given to outstanding Filipino scientists.

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Education

Lantican graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines with a degree in B.S. Agriculture in 1954. He then pursued further studies at the North Carolina State College, where he acquired his M.S. in Plant Breeding in 1956. Later he finished his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding Genetics from Iowa State University in 1961.

Contributions to plant breeding

Dr. Lantican emphasized his studies in plant breeding on the development of varietal resistance and the improvement of plant structure and morphology. This paved the way for the production of new plant varieties, which are very beneficial not just to Filipino farmers, but to plant growers all over Asia.

He and his team developed a new variety of mungbean, which included an inherent resistance to Cercospora leaf spot, a known disease in plants. This yielded very good results and translated to increased production in Asian farming systems. Through this he became the pioneer on the varietal improvement of legumes in the Philippines in the 1960s, and resulted in more than 20 varieties of mungbean (CES and Pag-asa series), soybean and peanut. The plant types evolved were heavily used as parents in the breeding program of the Asian Vegetable Research and Developmental Center (AVDRC) in Taiwan.

Among Lantican’s notable researches included a study on extranuclear inheritance of susceptibility to the corn blight disease, considered a first in the world. The work, which was done with a colleague and a graduate student, received much attention from agricultural scientists in the USA, since it could have prevented the million dollar losses in their corn industry in 1969. Filipino experience in agriculture was then considered in ensuing hybrid seed productions. Also, the study sparked a renewed widespread interest in conserving genetic diversity, as an awareness of the vulnerability of genetically uniform crops to pests and diseases became apparent.

Career as educator

As part of his personal campaign to improve the research and development capability in the Philippines, Lantican helped established two national research and development centers. He also assumed the position of director of research of the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and of the Institute of Plant Breeding, UPLB, and also served as Undersecretary for R&D of the Department of Science and Technology.

As professor of agronomy and plant breeding, he educated a number of leaders in agriculture and plant breeding in the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Awards and Recognition

In 1988 he was elected into the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) for his research on cytoplasmic inheritance of hypersensitivity to a disease in maize. And in December 2005 he was conferred the rank and title of National Scientist for his pioneering scientific works in plant genetics and varietal improvement.

References

Citation

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