Rice Origination Debates

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In archeological sites, rice dates back to 8,000 years, but its specific period of domestication continues to spawn debates and raging controversies. Tens of thousands of rice are available in the modern world, which are all varieties of Indica or japonica, the two huge subspecies of Asian rice – Oryza sativa. The subspecies divide of oryza sativa has been estimated at more than 100,000 years ago. Botanists and archeologists working on Southeast Asia or East Asia stated that rice cultivation began in South-Central China, along the Yangtze River, while those working in India argued that origin of rice domestication began in the Ganges river valley.

In India, rice grains and pottery found at the site of Lahuradewa in the UP state dated back to 6,500 BC. For a long time, Chinese archaeology has assumed that early rice fields of Yangtze dates back to 7000 BC, although no evidence were established to prove either of cultivation behaviors or for the domestication traits. In 2011, Professor Michael Purgganan of New York University co-authored a research study which indicated that all of world’s domesticated rice might have originated from a single place in China.

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The research team’s large scale gene re-sequencing method traces the origins of domesticated rice as far as 9000 BC to Yangtze valley. The results of this research study obviously miffed the Indian researchers until last week’s fresh findings. Lead researcher & biotechnologist, Mr. Nagendra Kumar Singh, working at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), along with a 13 member team, set out to develop a unique DNA chip. The chip’s data lends weight to the theory that two of the most vital groups of cultivated rice varieties, which are closely related to the Indian wild rice, were first domesticated in the sub-continent (nearly 10,000 years ago).

Dr. Nagendra Kumar Singh

Dr. Nagendra Kumar Singh

The chip has been filed to attain a patent and the research study has been published in the prestigious journal Nature Scientific Reports. The IARI rice chip is said to accommodate 50,000 combinations of genes on a single plate. Cornell University in USA previously developed a chip that can 44,000 variants. This new rice chip was developed from scratch by IARI, only after the American team totally denied the Indians, the import of their technology. The new discovery settles the controversy that China alone shouldn’t take credit for bestowing the mankind with this wonder crop. Nagendra Kumar Singh has stated that a traditional plant breeding takes up to 15 years to develop a new variety of rice, but this new rice chip may halve the time taken to breed.

The chip could also be applied to develop different varieties of rice that can tolerate long durations of flooding. The findings of this rice chip wouldn’t however, totally terminate the controversy over the origination as China might soon come up with an elaborate research. Both the Asian Giants hope to take credit for being the sole creator of the ‘king of cereals’.

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  • Wow, so many information about rice!

  • champati manikanta

    Long awaiting project by ICAR…. Very Informative