Three geographically separate domestications of Asian rice

P. Civáň, H. Craig, C. J. Cox, T. A. Brown

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number15164
JournalNature Plants
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2015


  • Oryza sativa
  • japonica
  • indica
  • aus
  • domestication
  • selective sweeps

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