It's the first crop plant to have its genome sequenced, which means scientists identified virtually all the 389 chemical building blocks of its DNA. Certain sequences of these building blocks form genes, like letters spelling words.
The advance will help breeders produce new rice varieties with traits such as higher yield, improved nutritional content, and better resistance to disease and pests.
The work is reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature by the International Rice Genome Sequencing Project, which was established in 1998. The effort was led by Japanese researchers.