Kenneth M. Olsen, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences, worked with collaborators at Chiang Mai University in Thailand to examine the genetic repercussions of a longstanding practice by individual farmers of saving and replanting purple rice.

The study, published in the journal Economic Botany, shows that these traditional farming practices help preserve the genetic diversity of the grain.

Genetic diversity in heirloom rice can serve as a valuable resource for crop breeding and improvement.

Kenneth M. Olsen

For example, it can be used for breeding varieties to withstand droughts, floods and other erratic weather conditions that have become increasingly common and problematic in recent years.