Microsatellite markers reveal multiple origins for Italian weedy rice



Weedy rice (Oryza sativa L.) is one of the major issues of rice cultivation worldwide. In Italy, it infests about 70% of the total rice area. Different Weedy Rice populations can be distinguished based on variable morphological and physiological traits; however, little is known about genetic differentiation and origin of Italian weedy rice populations. The objective of this study was to genetically and morphologically characterize and compare different Italian weedy rice populations selected on the basis of different phenotypes. The main Italian rice territory was divided into 10 geographical areas in which 40 weedy rice populations were collected and grouped according to the awn traits. All the individuals of the populations were morphologically characterized according to plant and seed traits. Genetic characterization was performed using 19 SSR markers on all the collected accessions, and several rice cultivars, including some very old (late 19th century), nowadays are no longer cultivated. ANOVA showed that morphological plant and seed traits were significantly affected by the collection area and awnedness group. The importance of the awn morphology was also reflected in the Bayesian clustering where, despite a relatively low genetic diversity, the clusters displayed different awn types. An UPGMA dendrogram confirmed the clusters detected in STRUCTURE analysis and also revealed a grouping of certain old cultivars with the weedy rice, suggesting a common origin.