CLEMSON — Stephen Kresovich, Coker Chair of Genetics and director of Clemson’s Institute of Translational Genomics, has been elected to the board of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation.

The foundation serves to advance the sustainable restoration and preservation of Carolina Gold Rice and other heirloom grains, as well as to raise public awareness of historic ricelands and heirloom agriculture.

Carolina Gold, a long-grain rice with a rich honey amber hull, was a culinary and economic standout of colonial and antebellum coastal communities in South Carolina and Georgia. Once supplanted by new varieties, Carolina Gold now is enjoying a revival, acclaimed by chefs, food historians and diners.

“Carolina Gold was critical to the establishment of the U.S. rice industry,” Kresovich said. “Because of its importance and its interesting suite of agronomic and quality traits, it likely will play a pivotal role in future U.S. rice breeding. It’s likely that the DNA sequence of Carolina Gold soon will be determined; therefore we’ll be able to establish the genetic bases of many of its important characteristics.”

Stephen Kresovich

Stephen Kresovich

Kresovich is an internationally acclaimed geneticist known for his molecular research to improve crop production in sorghum, sugar cane and maize. He applies genomics and bioinformatics tools to address issues in agriculture, conservation and human health, as well.

Before joining Clemson in 2013, Kresovich was SmartState Endowed Chair of Genomics at the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina, where he characterized and utilized the genetic diversity of animals and microbes and plants important for crop, horticulture, forestry and pharmaceuticals.

Prior to coming to South Carolina, Kresovich was director of Cornell University’s Institute for Biotechnology and Life Science Technologies and also was vice provost for life sciences and interim vice provost for research. Prior to those appointments, he served as laboratory director at USDA National Genetic Resources Program gene banks in New York and Georgia.

“Dr. Kresovich has demonstrated a great sympathy for the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation’s efforts to ensure that the plant resources, the traditional food cultures be maintained,” said David Shields, chairman of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation board.

Carolina Gold’s revival began in the mid 1980s when a Savannah plantation owner obtained Carolina Gold from a USDA seed bank and repatriated the rice to the coastal wetlands around Charleston. Anson Mills, a specialty grains supplier in Columbia, began growing Carolina Gold rice sustainably in 1998 and today has organic Carolina Gold Rice fields in Georgia, North and South Carolina and Texas.

The foundation, meanwhile, works closely with Clemson’s Coastal Research and Education Center in Charleston, which conducts applied research, education and public service programs on vegetables and specialty crops. The center includes 325 acres in addition to laboratories in the Department of Agriculture U.S. Vegetable Laboratory building.