• Inorganic arsenic (As(i) ) in rice (Oryza sativa) grains is a possible threat to human health, with risk being strongly linked to total dietary rice consumption and consumed rice As(i) content. This study aimed to identify the range and stability of genetic variation in grain arsenic (As) in rice. • Six field trials were conducted (one each in Bangladesh and China, two in Arkansas, USA over 2 yr, and two in Texas, USA comparing flooded and nonflood treatments) on a large number of common rice cultivars (c. 300) representing genetic diversity among international rice cultivars. • Within each field there was a 3-34 fold range in grain As concentration which varied between rice subpopulations. Importantly, As(i) correlated strongly with total As among a subset of 40 cultivars harvested in Bangladesh and China. • Genetic variation at all field sites was a large determining factor for grain As concentration, indicating that cultivars low in grain As could be developed through breeding. The temperate japonicas exhibited lower grain As compared with other subpopulations. Effects for year, location and flooding management were also statistically significant, suggesting that breeding strategies must take into account environmental factors.
© 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.