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World Rice Collection
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Establishment, Curation, and Utilization of the World Rice Collection

The USDA-ARS World Rice Collection consists of over 19,000 accessions and 12 species of the genus Oryza are represented. The majority of rice that is grown for human consumption comes from just one of these species, Oryza sativa. The other species are described as wild relatives of rice and generally have undesirable traits like seed shattering and poor grain yield. However, research has shown that these wild relatives also harbor genes, that when crossed with O. sativa, can enhance yield, disease and insect resistance, and tolerance to some environmental stresses.


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Rice is not indigenous to the USA, thus the original rice collection came from exploration trips and donations from countries around the world where rice is naturally found. The first accessions trace back to seed collection trips from over a century ago and the seed has been maintained ever since. Rice has been grown in the USA since pre-colonial days, however it was not until the development of mechanized planting and harvesting equipment that significant acreage became established in the mid-south and California, where it is still grown today. Seed of rice accessions from other countries was the basis for establishing the USA rice industry.

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