Analysis of Domestication Loci in Wild Rice Populations

Hasan S, Furtado A, and Henry R



The domestication syndrome is defined as a collection of domestication-related traits that have undergone permanent genetic changes during the domestication of cereals. Australian wild rice populations have not been exposed to gene flow from domesticated rice populations. A high level of natural variation of the sequences at domestication loci (e.g., seed shattering, awn development, and grain size) was found in Australian AA genome wild rice from the primary gene pool of rice. This natural variation is much higher than that found in Asian cultivated rice and wild Asian rice populations. The Australian Oryza meridionalis populations exhibit a high level of homozygous polymorphisms relative to domesticated rice, inferring the fixation of distinct wild and domesticated alleles. Alleles of the seed shattering genes (SH4/SHA1 and OsSh1/SH1) present in the shattering-prone O. meridionalis populations are likely to be functional, while the dysfunctional alleles of these seed shattering genes are found in domesticated rice. This confirms that unlike Asian wild rice populations, Australian wild rice populations have remained genetically isolated from domesticated rice, retaining pre-domestication alleles in their wild populations that uniquely allow the impact of domestication on the rice genome to be characterized. This study also provides key information about the domestication loci in Australian wild rice populations that will be valuable in the utilization of these genetic resources in crop improvement and de novo domestication.