The introduction of Clearfield (CL) rice cultivars resistant to imidazolinone herbicides, acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors, has raised concerns of gene flow to weedy rice genotypes collectively called “red rice” that infest rice-growing areas in the southern United States. This experiment was conducted to study hybridization between CL rice and red rice using simple sequence repeats (SSR) markers, identify mutations in the ALS gene of imazethapyr-resistant red rice, and to detect the introgression of the ALS-resistant gene from CL rice into red rice. Natural outcrossing experiments between CL rice and strawhull (SH) red rice were set up in Stuttgart, AR, in 2002 and 2003. Putative red rice hybrids were detected among volunteer plants in the following year. Hybridization was confirmed using SSR markers, and introgression of the resistant ALS gene from CL rice to red rice was detected by ALS gene sequencing. The ALS gene sequences of U.S. rice cultivars ‘Bengal’ and ‘Cypress’, SH red rice, CL rice (CL161), and imazethapyr-resistant red rice/CL rice hybrids were compared. Nucleotide sequences of the ALS gene from the rice cultivars were identical. Three point mutations were present in the SH red rice ALS gene coding region relative to Bengal/Cypress. One of these resulted in the substitution of Asp630 for Glu630. The ALS gene sequences of confirmed hybrids were identical to that of the herbicide-resistant pollen source, CL161. We identified four ALS gene mutations in the herbicide-resistant red rice hybrids relative to the susceptible rice cultivars. One point mutation, resulting in a substitution of Ser653 with Asn, was linked to ALS resistance in callus tissue derived from a Kinmaze rice line from Japan. The other three mutations (Ser186—Pro, Lys416—Glu, and Leu662—Pro) are novel. This experiment confirmed that gene flow from imidazolinone-resistant rice resulted in herbicide-resistant red rice plants.
Nomenclature: Imazethapyr; red rice, Oryza sativa L. ORSAT; rice, Oryza sativa L.