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Three geographically separate domestications of Asian rice

Nature Plants volume 1, Article number: 15164 (2015) | Download Citation

Abstract

Domesticated rice (Oryza sativa L.) accompanied the dawn of Asian civilization1 and has become one of world's staple crops. From archaeological and genetic evidence various contradictory scenarios for the origin of different varieties of cultivated rice have been proposed, the most recent based on a single domestication2,3. By examining the footprints of selection in the genomes of different cultivated rice types, we show that there were three independent domestications in different parts of Asia. We identify wild populations in southern China and the Yangtze valley as the source of the japonica gene pool, and populations in Indochina and the Brahmaputra valley as the source of the indica gene pool. We reveal a hitherto unrecognized origin for the aus variety in central India or Bangladesh. We also conclude that aromatic rice is a result of a hybridization between japonica and aus, and that the tropical and temperate versions of japonica are later adaptations of one crop. Our conclusions are in accord with archaeological evidence that suggests widespread origins of rice cultivation1,4. We therefore anticipate that our results will stimulate a more productive collaboration between genetic and archaeological studies of rice domestication, and guide utilization of genetic resources in breeding programmes aimed at crop improvement.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by European Research Council grant 339941 awarded to T.A.B. We thank E. Karimi for sparking interest in the origin of aromatic rice. We also thank J. Ross-Ibarra for constructive comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester M1 7DN, Manchester, UK

    • Peter Civáň
    • , Hayley Craig
    •  & Terence A. Brown
  2. Centro de Ciências do Mar, Universidade do Algarve, Gambelas, 8005-139 Faro, Portugal

    • Cymon J. Cox

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Contributions

P.C. conceived the project and led the data analysis. H.C. contributed the geographical data analysis. C.F.C. and T.A.B. contributed conceptual development and data interpretation. P.C. and T.A.B. wrote the manuscript and all co-authors contributed manuscript editing.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Terence A. Brown.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nplants.2015.164

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