Rice Has Many Fathers however Only Two Mothers

Professor Robert Henry

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Professor Robert Henry gathers wild rice samples in northern Australia. Credit: (c) The University of Queensland

Researchers examining the heritage of countless rice ranges have actually recognized simply 2 unique maternal family trees, a discovery that might assist deal with the problem of worldwide food security.

University of Queensland researchers studied more than 3000 rice genotypes and discovered variety was acquired through 2 maternal genomes recognized in all rice ranges.

Lead scientist UQ’s Professor Robert Henry stated the finding was essential in comprehending how rice adjusted to its environment.

“We think there were two separate domestications of virgin wild plants that diverged around a million years ago in the wild, and then in the last 7000 thousand years human domestication of rice has occurred,” Professor Henry stated.

The 2 domesticated ranges interbred with the regional wild rices throughout Asia.

“The wild rice has pollinated the domesticated rices planted nearby and the seed of the domesticated variety has then incorporated the genetics of the local wild varieties,” he stated.

“The maternal lineage is preserved via the seed, and we’ve identified that because rice farmers have and still continue to collect the seed from the field, the local varieties become very much like the local wild rices.”

Professor Henry stated the finding had ramifications for domestication of rice and reproducing for adjustment to environment modification to deal with food security.

“It gives us clues as to how we might try to capture more of the diversity in the wild and bring it into the domesticated gene pool to improve rice crops,” he stated.

“It also points to the need to understand the significance of the maternal genotype in terms of performance of rice because we did not previously understand there are two very distinct maternal functional types.”

Rice is the essential food of over half of the world’s population and is the third-largest around the world farming crop, with more than 630 million tonnes produced yearly.

“Now we’ve got an ongoing collaboration with mathematicians to try and find a way of analyzing the rice data in more detail, we want to look at relationships between lots of different subgroups,” Professor Henry stated.

“This would include examining how the Basmatis and the Japonicas really relate and the various types of Indica rices.”

References: “Two divergent chloroplast genome sequence clades captured in the domesticated rice gene pool may have significance for rice production” by Ali Mohammad Moner, Agnelo Furtado and Robert J. Henry, 14 October 2020, BMC Plant Biology.
DOI: 10.1186/s12870-020-02689-6

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