Mapping of a gene responsible for the difference in amylopectin structure between japonica-type and indica-type rice varieties
The present investigation revealed that the alk and gel(t) genes, which cause the differences between a japonica rice variety Nipponbare and an indica rice variety Kasalath in terms of the disintegration of endosperm starch granules in alkali solution and their gelatinisation in a 4 M urea solution, respectively, cosegregated in backcross inbred lines derived from a cross between the two varieties. The segregation pattern of the profile for amylopectin chain-length, which was distinguished by enrichment in short chains of DP≦11 and depletion in intermediate-size chains of 12≦DP≦24 in japonica as compared with indica, was exactly the same as those of the above physico-chemical properties of starch granules, and the gene was designated as acl(t). Gene-mapping analysis showed that the starch synthase IIa (SSIIa) gene is located at the alk locus on chromosome 6 in the rice genome. These results lead us to the possibility that different alleles of the SSIIa gene are responsible for differences in amylopectin structure between the two varieties, in that SSIIa plays a distinct role in the elongation of short chains within clusters (A+B1 chains) of amylopectin. It is proposed that the activity of SSIIa in japonica rice is reduced in amount or functional capacity relative to the activity of this enzyme in indica rice. This, in turn, would explain why starch from japonica rice has a lower gelatinisation temperature than starch from indica rice and is more susceptible to disintegration in alkali or urea. The evidence for this hypothesis is that the alk(t), gel(t), acl(t) and SSIIa genes all map to the same locus.
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