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AoB Plants. 2013;5:plt032. doi: 10.1093/aobpla/plt032. Epub 2013 Nov 1.

Phenotypic characters of rice landraces reveal independent lineages of short-grain aromatic indica rice.

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  • 1NCBS-TIFR, Ecology and Evolution , Bellary Road, Bangalore, Karnataka 560065 , India ; Present address: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Royal Enclave , Sriramapura, Jakkur Post, Bangalore 560064 , India.


Rice landraces are lineages developed by farmers through artificial selection during the long-term domestication process. Despite huge potential for crop improvement, they are largely understudied in India. Here, we analyse a suite of phenotypic characters from large numbers of Indian landraces comprised of both aromatic and non-aromatic varieties. Our primary aim was to investigate the major determinants of diversity, the strength of segregation among aromatic and non-aromatic landraces as well as that within aromatic landraces. Using principal component analysis, we found that grain length, width and weight, panicle weight and leaf length have the most substantial contribution. Discriminant analysis can effectively distinguish the majority of aromatic from non-aromatic landraces. More interestingly, within aromatic landraces long-grain traditional Basmati and short-grain non-Basmati aromatics remain morphologically well differentiated. The present research emphasizes the general patterns of phenotypic diversity and finds out the most important characters. It also confirms the existence of very unique short-grain aromatic landraces, perhaps carrying signatures of independent origin of an additional aroma quantitative trait locus in the indica group, unlike introgression of specific alleles of the BADH2 gene from the japonica group as in Basmati. We presume that this parallel origin and evolution of aroma in short-grain indica landraces are linked to the long history of rice domestication that involved inheritance of several traits from Oryza nivara, in addition to O. rufipogon. We conclude with a note that the insights from the phenotypic analysis essentially comprise the first part, which will likely be validated with subsequent molecular analysis.


Aromatic; Basmati; domestication; grain length; landraces; phenotypic diversity; rice

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