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J Evol Biol. 2010 Dec;23(12):2747-53.

The molecular basis of white pericarps in African domesticated rice: novel mutations at the Rc gene.

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Department of Biology, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.


Repeated phenotypic evolution can occur at both the inter- and intraspecific level and is especially prominent in domesticated plants, where artificial selection has favoured the same traits in many different species and varieties. The question of whether repeated evolution reflects changes at the same or different genes in each lineage can now be addressed using the domestication and improvement genes that have been identified in a variety of crops. Here, we document the genetic basis of nonpigmented ('white') pericarps in domesticated African rice (Oryza glaberrima) and compare it with the known genetic basis of the same trait in domesticated Asian rice (Oryza sativa). In some cases, white pericarps in African rice are apparently caused by unique mutations at the Rc gene, which also controls pericarp colour variation in Asian rice. In one case, white pericarps appear to reflect changes at a different gene or potentially a cis-regulatory region.

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