Evolution of flowering time genes in rice: From the paleolithic to the anthropocene

Michela Osnato*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The evolutionary paths of humans and plants have crossed more than once throughout millennia. While agriculture contributed to the evolution of societies in prehistory, human selection of desirable traits contributed to the evolution of crops during centuries of cultivation. Among cereal crops, rice is currently grown around the globe and represents staple food for almost half of the world population. Over time, rice cultivation has expanded from subtropical to temperate regions thanks to artificial selection of mutants with impaired response to photoperiod. Additional regulatory mechanisms control flowering in response to diverse environmental cues, anticipating or delaying the floral transition to produce seeds in more favourable conditions. Nevertheless, the changing climate is threatening grain production because modern cultivars are sensitive to external fluctuations that go beyond their physiological range. One possibility to guarantee food production could be the exploitation of novel varieties obtained by crossing highly productive Asian rice with stress tolerant African rice. This review explores the genetic basis of the key traits that marked the long journey of rice cultivation from the end of the paleolithic to the anthropocene, with a focus on heading date. By 2050, will rice plants of the future flower in the outer space?.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPlant, Cell and Environment
Early online date21 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2022


  • African rice
  • Asian rice
  • crop evolution
  • flowering time control
  • rice genetic improvement


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