Aaron Semington

Evaluation of Allele Frequencies at a Seed Shatter Locus in Natural and Cultivated Stands of Northern Wild Rice

Northern wild rice (NWR; Zizania palustris L.) is an annual, aquatic grass found in the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada. A major barrier preventing mass cultivation is a phenomenon known as seed shattering. When seeds mature, they fall off the panicle at different rates which lowers the yield amount. The goal of this research was to evaluate genotypes of NWR from both natural stands and from the UMN NWR breeding program to document the prevalence of a previously identified shattering resistance allele using RM106. It was found that higher proportions of the resistance allele exist in varieties and elite breeding lines. This indicates that selection within the breeding program is improving seed shattering resistance in cultivated NWR. Once all genotyping of natural stand seed sources is complete, spatial analyses to compare allele frequencies in natural stands and the geographical distance from cultivated paddy production will establish if there is any correlation between the two. This research will help address concerns raised by some community members regarding pollen-mediated gene flow from cultivated production systems to natural stands. 

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