The wild relatives of rice contain a virtually untapped reservoir of traits that can be used help drive the 21st century green revolution aimed at solving world food security issues by 2050. To better understand and exploit the 23 species of the Oryza genus the rice research community is developing foundational resources composed of: 1) reference genomes and transcriptomes for all 23 species; 2) advanced mapping populations for functional and breeding studies; and 3) in situ conservation sites for ecological, evolutionary and population genomics. To this end, 16 genome sequencing projects are currently underway, and all completed assemblies have been annotated; and several advanced mapping populations have been developed, and more will be generated, mapped, and phenotyped, to uncover useful alleles. As wild Oryza populations are threatened by human activity and climate change, we also discuss the urgent need for sustainable in situ conservation of the genus. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.