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Quantitative trait locus analysis and fine mapping of the qPL6 locus for panicle length in rice

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Key message

Two QTLs were identified to control panicle length in rice backcross lines, and one QTL qPL6 was finely mapped with potential in high yield breeding.


Panicle length (PL) is the key determinant of panicle architecture in rice, and strongly affects yield components, such as grain number per panicle. However, this trait has not been well studied genetically nor its contribution to yield improvement. In this study, we performed quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis for PL in four backcross populations derived from the cross of Nipponbare (japonica) and WS3 (indica), a new plant type (NPT) variety. Two QTLs were identified on chromosome 6 and 8, designated as qPL6 and qPL8, respectively. Near-isogenic lines (NILs) were developed to evaluate their contribution to important agronomic traits. We found that qPL6 and qPL8 had additive effects on PL trait. For the qPL6 locus, the WS3 allele also increased panicle primary and secondary branches and grain number per panicle. Moreover, this allele conferred wide and strong culms, a character of lodging resistance. By analyzing key recombinants in two steps, the qPL6 locus was finely mapped to a 25-kb interval, and 3 candidate genes were identified. According to the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within candidate genes, 5 dCaps markers were designed and used to get haplotypes of 96 modern Chinese varieties, which proved that qPL6 locus is differentiated between indica and temperate japonica varieties. Taken together, the superior qPL6 allele can be applied in rice breeding programs for large sink size, particularly for japonica varieties that originally lack the allele.

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This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 91117018) and from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012AA10A302).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Author information

Correspondence to Zuhua He.

Additional information

L. Zhang, J. Wang and J. Wang contributed equally to the work.

Communicated by M. Wissuwa.

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Zhang, L., Wang, J., Wang, J. et al. Quantitative trait locus analysis and fine mapping of the qPL6 locus for panicle length in rice. Theor Appl Genet 128, 1151–1161 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-015-2496-y

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  • Quantitative Trait Locus
  • Quantitative Trait Locus Analysis
  • Quantitative Trait Locus Locus
  • Panicle Length
  • Spikelet Number