Using Genetic Markers to Track the Origin, Distribution, and Renaissance of Carolina Gold Rice.
Anna McClung, Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center, USDA-ARS, 2890 Hwy 130 E., Stuttgart, AR 72160 and Robert Fjellstrom, USDA ARS, Rice Research Unit, Beaumont, TX 77713.
Carolina Gold was the first rice cultivar to be successfully commercialized in North America and was highly responsible for the establishment and growth of the British colonies along the southeast US coast. Although by the late 1800's, rice production had moved to the other regions of the country, Carolina Gold served as one of the original landraces used in the establishment of US rice breeding programs. However, the origin of Carolina Gold has remained a mystery. Molecular markers have been used to better understand the history of Carolina Gold rice as well as purify it for use in contemporary niche markets. A previous report demonstrated that Carolina Gold possesses a unique allele of the rice Waxy gene, which controls amylose content and grain cooking quality. This allele has been traced through the US rice pedigree and is found in current commercial cultivars. This indicates that the same allele that was introduced into North America several hundred years ago in Carolina Gold rice is still having a major impact on the US rice industry today. We have evaluated world germplasm with a set of fingerprint molecular markers to search for the origins of Carolina Gold. In addition, samples of rice that were over 100 years old were obtained from historical and archeological sites in South Carolina and were evaluated with markers to determine if they were evidence of Carolina Gold production. Moreover, molecular markers were used to purify the Carolina Gold landrace and produce Carolina Gold Select, a cultivar that is being commercially produced today for a niche market focused on authentic historical cuisine.