QTLs for cell-membrane stability mapped in rice (Oryza sativa L.) under drought stress
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Cell-membrane stability (CMS) is considered to be one of the major selection indices of drought tolerance in cereals. In order to determine which genomic region is responsible for CMS, 104 rice (Oryza sativa L.) doubled haploid (DH) lines derived from a cross between CT9993–5-10–1-M and IR62266-42–6-2 were studied in the greenhouse in a slowly developed drought stress environment. Drought stress was induced on 50-day-old plants by withholding water. The intensity of stress was assessed daily by visual scoring of leaf wilting and by measuring leaf relative water content (RWC). The leaf samples were collected from both control (well-watered) and stressed plants (at 60–65% of RWC), and the standard test for CMS was carried out in the laboratory. There was no significant difference (P>0.05) in RWC between the two parental lines as well as among the 104 lines, indicating that all the plants were sampled at a uniform stress level. However, a significant difference (P<0.05) in CMS was observed between the two parental lines and among the population. No significant correlation was found between CMS and RWC, indicating that the variation in CMS was genotypic in nature. The continuous distribution of CMS and its broad-sense heritability (34%) indicates that CMS should be polygenic in nature. A linkage map of this population comprising of 145 RFLPs, 153 AFLPs and 17 microsatellite markers was used for QTL analysis. Composite interval mapping identified nine putative QTLs for CMS located on chromosomes 1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12. The amount of phenotypic variation that was explained by individual QTLs ranged from 13.4% to 42.1%. Four significant (P<0.05) pairs of digenic interactions between the detected QTLs for CMS were observed. The identification of QTLs for this important trait will be useful in breeding for the improvement of drought tolerance in rice. This is the first report of mapping QTLs associated with CMS under a natural water stress condition in any crop plants.
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