Scientists are helping to bring back Carolina
Gold, an heirloom variety. It was the world's most sought-after rice during the
Image courtesy Mickey Frank, Texas A&M
Research and Extension Center, Beaumont, Texas.
ARS Scientists Aid Revival of Historic American
August 18, 2005
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists who have developed molecular markers to "fingerprint" rice
cultivars are helping to bring back an heirloom crop that was once called
"America's First Rice."
The rice, called Carolina Gold, was popular in the South during the Colonial
Era. Now, as part of an effort to bring new attention to this rice, ARS
McClung will discuss her research to identify Carolina Gold during the
Gold Symposium, which starts today and runs until August 20 in Charleston,
McClung, research leader of the ARS
Research Unit at Beaumont, Texas, has played a major role in refining
Carolina Gold using genetic markers in an effort to help the
Carolina Gold Rice
Foundation. The foundation is dedicated to the sustainable restoration and
preservation of this and other heirloom grains, and to increased awareness of
the importance of historic croplands and heirloom agriculture. The Carolina
Gold Symposium is the foundation's key annual meeting.
McClung and ARS plant molecular geneticist
Fjellstrom at Beaumont have developed molecular markers that can be used to
fingerprint rice cultivars. After evaluating over1,600 cultivars, or
accessions, the RM190 genetic markerlinked to the gene that controls rice
starch was effective at distinguishing Carolina Gold and its derivatives
from other accessions.
This and several other markers have been used to purify the heirloom
cultivar into what is now called Carolina Gold Select. Working with
Anson Mills of Columbia,
S.C., and the Texas Rice Improvement Association of Beaumont, Texas, Carolina
Gold Select is being grown commercially for use in a niche market. McClung will
present her latest research on the cultivar at the conference.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.