Phenotypic characters of rice landraces reveal independent lineages of short-grain aromatic indica rice

Ray blog post
(photo credit: Jason Taylor)

Crop domestication is a remarkable example of the evolution of wild plants into cultivable forms through human selection. Following the domestication of rice almost 10,000 years ago, ancient farmers selected many rice lineages for diverse agronomic and cultural traits, such as grain size, shape and colour; awn length; pest resistance; and aroma. A recent study in AoB PLANTS by Ray et al. examined the phenotypic traits of a large collection of Indian rice landraces (all accessed from Vrihi, rice seed bank, www.cintdis.org/vrihi) and found that a few grain, panicle and leaf traits are major drivers of the huge phenotypic diversity observed. They also demonstrated the existence of short grain aromatic landraces perhaps with independently evolved aroma traits. The independent origin of aroma in indica rice is fascinating as it explores lesser known aspects of indica rice domestication and diversification.

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