When west meets east: The origins and spread of weedy rice between continental and island Southeast Asia

Ting Xiang Neik, Jing Yun Chai, Seow Yeen Tan, Maggie Pui San Sudo, Yongxia Cui, Jayasyaliny Jayaraj, Su Sin Teo, Kenneth M. Olsen, Beng Kah Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Weedy crop relatives are among the world’s most problematic agricultural weeds, and their ability to rapidly evolve can be enhanced by gene flow from both domesticated crop varieties and wild crop progenitor species. In this study, we examined the role of modern commercial crop cultivars, traditional landraces, and wild relatives in the recent emergence and proliferation of weedy rice in East Malaysia on the island of Borneo. This region of Malaysia is separated from the Asian continent by the South China Sea, and weedy rice has become a major problem there more recently than on the Malaysian peninsular mainland. Using 24 polymorphic SSR loci and genotype data from the awn-length domestication gene An-1, we assessed the genetic diversity, population structure and potential origins of East Malaysian weeds; 564 weedy, cultivated and wild rice accessions were analyzed from samples collected in East Malaysia, Peninsular Malaysia and neighboring countries. While there is considerable evidence for contributions of Peninsular Malaysian weed ecotypes to East Malaysian populations, we find that local crop cultivars and/or landraces from neighboring countries are also likely contributors to the weedy rice infestations. These findings highlight the implications of genetic admixture from different cultivar source populations in the spread of weedy crop relatives and the urgent need for preventive measurements to maintain sustainable crop yields.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2941-2950
Number of pages10
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Adaptive evolution
  • Agricultural weeds
  • Awn length
  • Crop-weed introgression
  • Oryza sativa
  • Weedy rice


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