Rice Domestication, Step by Step

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Science  02 Jun 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5778, pp. 1273n
DOI: 10.1126/science.312.5778.1273n

Rice, one of the most important crops of today, is also one of the oldest. A major factor in rice domestication is the retention of the grain by the plant after ripening that allowed for easy harvest by humans. Recently, a putative transcription factor was identified in which a single base change controls grain retention. Konishi et al. (p. 1392, published online 13 April; see the Perspective by Doebley) identify a second gene regulating grain retention that is also a putative transcription factor. This gene is a homolog of a known transcription factor in Arabidopsis involved in the regulation of floral developmental genes. The release of the rice grain is under the control of a single base-pair change in the upstream regulatory region. Further studies of these genes could help pinpoint the processes and timing of domestication of this important crop.

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