Rice was the first crop to have a high-quality reference genome sequence and is now at the forefront of intense functional and evolutionary research for two reasons-its central role in world food security, and its status as a model system for grasses. A thorough characterization of the rice genome cannot be accomplished without a deep understanding of its evolutionary history. The genus Oryza contains two cultivated and 22 wild rice species that represent 10 distinct genome types embedded within a robust phylogeny spanning a ~15 million year time span. The genus contains an untapped reservoir of agriculturally important traits and a historical record of genomic changes (especially those related to domestication, polyploidy, speciation and adaption).The two main objectives of the 'Oryza Map Alignment Project' (OMAP) were to functionally characterize the rice genome from a comparative standpoint and to provide essential tools to leverage the novel genetic diversity from wild relatives for rice improvement. The objective of this review is to summarize our efforts towards developing the most comprehensive genus-wide set of publicly available BAC resources for the genus Oryza, the first of its kind among plants (and perhaps higher eukaryotes), and their applications.