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Domestication of wild rice (Zizania) cultivars has helped to improve some of the negative economic traits of the wild varieties associated with shattering, disease resistance, seed dormancy, tiller asynchrony, and variable seed size (11, 12, 14). But there is still a lot of potential for further genetic development to improve these traits using the current genetic variability, which will also expand the growing region into nothern climates by developing strains with earlier maturation. Europe, Canada, and current waste swamplands are areas for this potential development (11, 14).
Whether or not genetic research should be conducted on wild rice is a major debate between opposing parties. Native Americans are fighting to unsully their culture and traditions. For more information on this debate, see:
- Wild Rice: Domestication of a Native North American Genus
- Save Wild Rice from Genetic Engineering
- Setting up an integrative research approach for sustaining wild rice (Zizania palustris) in the Upper Great Lakes Region of North America [PDF]
- Council for Responsible Genetics
- Wild Rice Breeding and Germplasm Improvement
Diseases that affect Zizania have also been identified in Oryza. Diseases in natural stands are not usually significant economic factors, except for ergot, but diseases in cultivated stands can cause severe losses. The most serious problems are fungi - brownspot and stem rot (11, 12, 13, 21). Fungal diseases (brownspot and stem rot, leaf blotch, stem smut, spot blotch), weeds (water plantain, giant burreed, cattail, small pondweed, sago pondweed, common arrowhead, cursed crowfoot, water starwort) and other diseases (bacterial brown spot, bacterial leaf streak, wheat streak mosaic virus-wild rice (WSMV-WR)) are partially controlled through cultural practices and improved agriculture traits such as: earlier maturity; an upright leaf structure; proper fertilization, water and land management; and crop rotation; but genetic disease resistance and chemical controls are also part of the overall focus of research (10, 11, 12, 13). In Minnesota, cultivated wild rice production depends upon successful use of malathion, because without treatment pests would damage 75% or more of the cultivated wild rice crop (10). Algae, blackbirds, crayfish and tadpole shrimp may damage seedlings or young crops and are usually managed through various methods - chemicals (for algae), water management and physical repellants (10). Waterfowl usually cause no serious economic damage to the wild rice crop (11, 12, 13).
Databases and Genetic Information