Crop Biotech Update

Birthplace of African Rice Domestication Found in Mali

July 11, 2018

An international research group led by researchers from Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD)-France, and involves the CEA and Africa Rice Centre (AfricaRice), has identified the geographic origin of African rice domestication. The group sequenced more than 246 African wild and cultivated rice genomes, and revealed that rice was domesticated 3,000 years ago in the Inner Niger Delta in northern Mali. Their discovery coincides with that of archaeological traces of rice domestication in the same area.

The IRD group studied the full sequences of the genomes of 163 domestic varieties and 83 wild varieties, harvested in the Sahel and East Africa. The researchers have now generated the largest genomic database for African rice available to date and analyzed the genetic diversity of the cultivated rice. The researchers suggest that aridification of the Sahara may be behind the domestication, and that wild African rice populations likely declined as the Sahara dried up. The decline corresponds to the introduction of Asian rice in West Africa by the Portuguese.

For more details, read the press release from AfricaRice.