Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (4): 346-356.DOI: 10.17520/biods.2018016

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Rice domestication and the Yangtze River civilization

Zhiping Song1,*(), Jiakuan Chen1, Yao Zhao2   

  1. 1 Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Biodiversity Science and Ecological Engineering, Institute of Biodiversity Science, Fudan University, Shanghai 200438
    2 Center for Watershed Ecology, Institute of Life Science and Key Laboratory of Poyang Lake Environment and Resource Utilization, Ministry of Education, Nanchang University, Nanchang 330031
  • Received:2018-01-16 Accepted:2018-04-16 Online:2018-04-20 Published:2018-09-11
  • Contact: Song Zhiping
  • About author:# Co-first authors


Rice (Oryza sativa) is one of the most important crops in the world and serves as a staple food source for more than half of the world’s population. Research into when, where, and how rice was initially cultivated and eventually domesticated is essential. Research on these questions has been greatly advanced recently, along with nearly continuous research in both genetics and archaeology using newly developed analytical techniques. Here, we review the scientific understanding of rice domestication in the Yangtze River valley from both an archaeological and genetic perspective, and discuss the relationship between rice domestication and the Yangtze River civilization. Recent genetic research suggests that domesticated rice (O. sativa ssp. japonica) first occurred in southern China, including the Yangtze River valley and the Pearl River Basin. Current findings from archaeology support the view that O. sativa ssp. japonica was firstly domesticated in the Yangtze River valley ca.10,000-8,000 BP, and rice cultivation and agricultural development triggered the Yangtze River civilization. These findings enhance our understanding of rice domestication and related cultivation culture and also have implications for conservation of plant resources in the Yangtze River valley.

Key words: cultivated rice, wild rice, domestication, the Yangtze River civilization, origin