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Evolutionary relationships in Oryza inferred from the gene that encodes the 10 kDa prolamin (seed storage protein) polypeptide
Cereals represent one of the most important food crops in the world. Rice (Oryza sativa) is one of the most commonly consumed cereal grains, and as a result, has considerable economic and agricultural importance, despite their potential as a source of genetic material. The phylogenetic relationships among rice and its wild species are not well understood. The objectives of this study are to evaluate the rate and type of molecular variation present in the gene that encodes the 10 kDa prolamin polypeptide in Oryza (Poaceae), and use this information in understanding the evolution of the Oryza genus. Our principle hypothesis is that genetic diversity exists at the molecular level in wild species of Oryza, and that this diversity can provide useful information regarding the phylogenetic relationships among rice species and permit a more theoretical examination of the evolutionary processes, such as concerted evolution, within Oryza and its nine genomes. A phylogeny of Oryza is presented, and modes of evolution are discussed.