Could abiotic stress tolerance in wild relatives of rice be used to improve Oryza sativa?

Brian J. Atwell*, Han Wang, Andrew P. Scafaro

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    99 Citations (Scopus)


    Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima have been selected to acquire and partition resources efficiently as part of the process of domestication. However, genetic diversity in cultivated rice is limited compared to wild Oryza species, in spite of 120,000 genotypes being held in gene banks. By contrast, there is untapped diversity in the more than 20 wild species of Oryza, some having been collected from just a few coastal locations (e.g. Oryza schlechteri), while others are widely distributed (e.g. Oryza nivara and Oryza rufipogon). The extent of DNA sequence diversity and phenotypic variation is still being established in wild Oryza, with genetic barriers suggesting a vast range of morphologies and function even within species, such as has been demonstrated for Oryza meridionalis. With increasing climate variability and attempts to make more marginal land arable, abiotic and biotic stresses will be managed over the coming decades by tapping into the genetic diversity of wild relatives of O. sativa. To help create a more targeted approach to sourcing wild rice germplasm for abiotic stress tolerance, we have created a climate distribution map by plotting the natural occurrence of all Oryza species against corresponding temperature and moisture data. We then discuss interspecific variation in phenotype and its significance for rice, followed by a discussion of ways to integrate germplasm from wild relatives into domesticated rice.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)48-58
    Number of pages11
    JournalPlant Science
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


    • Biogeography
    • Breeding
    • Climatic distribution
    • Introgression
    • Oryza
    • Wild relatives


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