Biotech Updates

Scientists Conclude Origin of Rice

May 6, 2011

A team of researchers from different universities has finally concluded that rice originated from China after tracing back thousands of years of evolution through extensive gene re-sequencing. As published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), New York University biologist Michael Purugganan and colleagues found that domesticated rice may have first appeared about 9,000 years ago in Yangtze Valley, China. Aside from reassessment of evolutionary history and re-sequencing of gene fragments, the researchers also used "molecular clock" of rice genes to elucidate when rice evolved. They pinpointed the origin of rice (Oryza sativa) at possibly 8,200 years ago, while japonica and indica split apart from each other about 3,900 years ago. This is consistent with the results of previous archaeological studies.

"This study is a good example of the new insights that can be gained from combining genomics, informatics and modeling," says Barbara A. Schaal, Professor of Biology at Washington University in St. Louis, who is also a co-author of the study. "Rice has a complicated evolutionary history with humans and has accompanied them as they moved throughout Asia. This work begins to reveal the genetic consequences of that movement."

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