(Continued from Old Dude’s Rice Innuendo 1)
Four years ago, Old Dude told me not to forget the rice origins so I could understand the past. I took his advice seriously and dug around until I found the studies for ancient rice, listing Oryza rufipogon as the most likely suspect for the domestication of rice.
The study concluded that rice had been around as early as 13,500 years ago, but this date was for the original strain of rice ̣(Oryza rufipogon) that eventually branched out and became all the other types of rice around the world. It was native to East, South, and Southeast Asia, and gave rise to Oryza sativa, which is the modern-day rice that we cultivate and produce for food-source.
According to one of the papers I read, There were only two varieties listed stemming from Oryza sativa: japonica and indica. This meant that rice was only developed in Japan and India, and nowhere else in the world. It didn’t quite make sense to me, but who am I to point out to scientists that if Oryza rufipogon was native to three different areas, East, South, and Southeast Asia, wouldn’t there be a third variety somewhere in the mix here?
I mean, come on!
We Viets can’t be that pathetic. With all the hot watery marshy wetlands we live in, how did we not figure out rice cultivation? We knew about hydroponic farming, we had bronze plows, we domesticated water buffalo with only one objective in mind, farming the marshy paddies.
With all that Oryza rufipogon growing wild as weeds here, how did we not figured out a way to make our own variety of rice called vietica? It makes no sense.
I INSIST ON VIETICA RICE!!!
So I dug some more, like the little ferret that I am, and I found out that japonica and indica rice split apart from each other about 3,900 years ago, which meant I had to go back to around 3,900 years to try and find any traces of vietica rice.
I looked and looked. I searched through databases, combed through all the nature articles looking for some clue, and I have to tell you. As I was reading long dry science publications from Nature and other international publishers, I nearly cried.
It was boring as snot, but far far drier. I had to reference and cross reference so many technological terms because obviously, I’m not a rice scientist and don’t have all the vocabulary needed to comprehend the deep end of the pool, but I could see that there was some discrepancy in the ideas that were floating around.
Some papers said there were several different origins all happening at the same time. Other papers said only one instance of domestication happened which lead to all other rice varieties. And even more papers published which said there were only two varieties, but they were called Asian rice and African rice (African rice???)
Oryza glaberrima, is basically African rice, and the African rice story is quite fascinating. It has to do with a religion called awasena, which reminds me of how we thought about our own rice crop. It was holy too, because it was handed down to us from our ancestor gods.
I wonder if it’s a similar story to the African rice god, just with a different group of humans in a different geographical location.
But I digress. I need to find basic benchmarks with which to launch my ideas off. The benchmarks must be unequivocal. They must be rock solid if I am to have any chance of proving to Old Dude that I was actually doing my homework, but here was where I ran headlong into a stump. I couldn’t find anything to support my hypothesis, so I did what any ordinary Tao Babe would do.
I took a nap and forgot about it—for 4 long years.
I was randomly reading some science rag called Nature when I saw something pop up about rice. I was like. Hey! Forgot all about Old Dude’s advice to study rice origins. I better polish up on my rice genetics before I get really in trouble with him. So I began digging through the last 4 years of rice research, and boy. There was quite a bit of stuff that got unearthed (literally) since the last time I looked at it.
First off, there was a completed genome for rice. This hadn’t been completed, as of the last time I did research on this subject, so that’s a big win! Once the rice genome had been sequenced, it set a basic standard that could not be bullshitted through.
Rice genetics pointed to two separate instances of domestication, which had to do with the functional allele for nonshattering. What the fuck is nonshattering? Short answer is: a mature seed that doesn’t fly off into the winds.
You see, in order to be able to harvest a crop as food, you have to make sure that once matured, that crop doesn’t fly away to try and reproduce itself. That’s how we can differentiate between wild and domesticated crops.
According to a paper by DA Vaughan:
‘because the functional allele for nonshattering, the critical indicator of domestication in grains, as well as five other single-nucleotide polymorphisms, is identical in both indica and japonica, (it was) determined a single domestication event for O. sativa.‘
But then a new mitochondrial genome analysis study in 2019 states:
our studies indicate that the selection sites of the indica type were different from those of the japonica type. This means that indica and japonica have experienced different domestication processes. We also found that japonica may have experienced a bottleneck event during domestication.
And another paper, The Complex History of the Domestication of Rice, states:
The oldest archaeological evidence of rice use by humans has been found in the middle and lower Yangzi River Valley region of China. Phytoliths, silicon microfossils of plant cell structures, from rice have been found at the Xianrendong and Diotonghuan sites and dated to 11 000–12 000 bc.
Modern O. sativa do not appear until 4500 bc at Chengtoushan in the Middle Yangzte and approx. 4000 bc in the Lower Yangzte area. These seeds are certainly domesticated.
Rice moved north to the Yellow River basin in Central China beginning in 3000–2000 bc. South of the Yangzi River, work in Taiwan and Vietnam date the earliest rice finds there to roughly the same time period, 2500–2000 bc
The close genetic relationship between the temperate and tropical japonica subpopulations (shared alleles, though at different frequencies) suggests that these groups are selections from a single genetic pool that have been adapted to different climatic conditions.
Oryza sativa is one of two resulting domestications of Oryza rufipogon (the other being O. glaberrima from Africa), and it is the rice variety that O. japonica and O. indica branched off of.
This is my self-proclained O. vietica rice.
Other archaological findings show rice grown at least 9,400 years ago in the area where my ancestors lived, near the Yangtze river, which dovetails into yet another finding that Oryza sativa was domesticated from the wild grass Oryza rufipogon roughly 10,000–14,000 years ago. This fits right into the time frame when the big flood drowned out Sundaland that I wrote about in one of my previous postings Sunken Paradise.
Once we factored in that last missing piece, it all fits perfectly. The wheel continues turning, into another era.