Italian weedy rice—A case of de‐domestication?
Ecology and Evolution
Weedy rice is a representative of the extensive group of feral weeds that derive from crops, but has returned to the lifestyle of a wild species. These weeds develop either from a hybridization of crops with wild relatives (exoferality), or by mutation of crops to weedy forms (endoferality). Due to the close relation of weed and crop, the methods for weed-targeted containment are limited to date. A deeper understanding of the development of such weeds might help to design more efficient and
... ainable approaches for weed management. Weedy rice poses a serious threat to rice yields worldwide. It is widely accepted that weedy rice has originated independently in different regions all over the world. However, details of its evolution have remained elusive. In the current study, we investigated the history of weedy rice in northern Italy, the most important rice-growing area in Europe. Our approach was to analyze genes related to weedy traits (SD1, sh4, Rc) in weedy rice accessions compared to cultivars, and to integrate these results with phenotypic and physiological data, as well as historical information about rice farming in Italy. We arrive at a working model for the timeline of evolution of weedy rice in Italy indicating that both exoferality and endoferality acted as forces driving the development of the diverse weedy rice populations found in the region today. Models of weed evolution can help to predict the direction which weed development might take and to develop new, sustainable methods to control feral weeds.