It takes three: The genetic mutations that made rice cultivation possible

In Japan and other Asian countries, rice has long been a common food. The findings of a recent study by an international research partnership 

point to three gene alterations that make the seeds (i.e., the rice grains) fall from the plant less readily as the cause of the emergence of cultivated rice from wild rice plants.

In their research, the scientists found that although the three mutations individually have minimal impact, when all three mutations are present

the rice plant's panicles retain more of its seeds, increasing crop yield.

When our ancestors found and began to nurture rice plants that do not drop their seeds easily, paving the door for reliable rice production

it is thought that wild rice was first domesticated. It is believed that these research findings may help design high-yield rice cultivars where every grain can be gathered

decreasing wastage, as well as future improvements to the ease with which rice seeds fall (i.e. making the crop easier to thresh).

Researchers from the Graduate School of Agriculture at Kobe University (Japan), the National Institute of Genetics (Japan), University College London (UK), University of Warwick (UK)

 Yezin Agricultural University (Myanmar), and the Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute worked together to make this discovery.

On June 23, these study results were published online in the PNAS journal of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

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