Pusa Basmati 1121 (PB 1121) is a landmark Basmati rice variety having Basmati quality traits introgressed from traditional Basmati varieties such as Basmati 370 and Type 3. It was released for commercial cultivation in 2003. It possesses extra-long slender milled grains (9.00 mm), pleasant aroma, and an exceptionally high cooked kernel elongation ratio of 2.5 with a cooked kernel length of up to 22 mm, volume expansion more than four times, appealing taste, good mouthfeel, and easy digestibility. Owing to its exceptional quality characteristics, it has set new standards in the Basmati rice market. The cumulative foreign exchange earnings through export of PB 1121 since 2008 have been US$ 20.8 billion, which has brought prosperity to millions of Basmati farmers. During 2017, the farmers cultivating PB 1121 earned on an average US$ 1400/ha as against US$ 650/ha cultivating traditional Basmati, making it a highly profitable enterprise. Currently, PB 1121 is grown in ~ 70% of the total area under Basmati rice cultivation in India. It is the most common Basmati rice variety in rice grain quality research for developing mapping populations, genetic analyses, and molecular mapping of Basmati quality traits. Additionally, it has been widely used in the Basmati rice breeding program across India, because of its superior quality attributes. This article presents an account of the development of PB 1121, its major characteristic features, and its flagship role in heralding a Basmati rice revolution. The prospective role of PB 1121 in Basmati rice improvement and future Basmati rice research as a whole is also presented

Background: Basmati is one of the unique specialty rice varieties, which has been cultivated for centuries at the foot of the Himalayan mountain ranges. Basmati rice was a predominant constituent of the rich and royal menus. Basmati rice has a harmonious combination of defined kernel dimensions, appealing aroma, fluffy texture of cooked rice, high volume expansion during cooking, linear kernel elongation with minimum breadth-wise swelling, palatability, easy digestibility, and longer shelf-life. In India, Basmati rice is primarily grown in the Indo-Gangetic region of the north-western region comprising the seven states Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu, and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir, and 27 districts of western Uttar Pradesh. This region has been earmarked as the Geographical Indication (GI) for Basmati rice and the GI status has been conferred to Basmati rice in 2016.

India is the largest cultivator and exporter of Basmati rice, followed by Pakistan. Basmati rice from the Indian subcontinent is highly prized in the international market for its unique grain, cooking, and eating quality.

Key Agronomic and Quality Traits: PB 1121 is a semi-dwarf rice variety with a plant height ranging from 110 to 120 cm. The sd1 allele for reduced plant height was derived from Taichung Native 1. It has a seed to seed maturity of 140–145 days in the Basmati growing regions of India. PB 1121 has a yield potential of up to 5.5 tons per hectare. It can produce 18–20 tillers per plant at a spacing of 20 cm × 15 cm and around 350–400 panicles per m2. It possesses well exserted long panicles, ranging from 26 to 28 cm. The number of filled grains per panicle ranges from 105 to 110 and the 1000-grain weight of the fully mature grains is 27.0–28.0 g (at 14% moisture). Since Basmati grains are extra-long and slender in appearance, they are prone to breakage during machine harvesting. Therefore, manual threshing in Basmati rice is preferred as it results in reduced broken grains, high head rice recovery, and better price realization for farmers as compared to a machine harvested crop. PB 1121 has easy testability, which is advantageous for manual threshing by the farmers.

The key grain characteristics of PB 1121 are presented in Table 1. It has extra-long slender grains with a milled rice kernel length averaging 9.00 mm, a breadth of 1.90 mm, and an L/B ratio of 4.74. Despite extra-long slender grains, it has an appreciable head rice recovery of 54.5% with a hulling and milling percentage of 75.0 and 70.5, respectively. The brown rice of PB 1121 is tan in color. The alkali spreading value (ASV) score is 7 and the amylose content is 22.0%. The linear cooked kernel length of PB 1121 is another unique feature, which is the highest ever recorded in rice germplasm, ranging from 21.0 to 21.5 mm with minimum breadthwise swelling (only 2.45 mm). The kernel elongation ratio of 2.70 is also the highest ever known for any rice line. It also possesses a strong aroma and has been rated as excellent cooking in the panel test.