Gain of deleterious function causes an autoimmune response and Bateson–Dobzhansky–Muller incompatibility in rice
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Reproductive isolation plays an important role in speciation as it restricts gene flow and accelerates genetic divergence between formerly interbreeding population. In rice, hybrid breakdown is a common reproductive isolation observed in both intra and inter-specific crosses. It is a type of post-zygotic reproductive isolation in which sterility and weakness are manifested in the F2 and later generations. In this study, the physiological and molecular basis of hybrid breakdown caused by two recessive genes, hbd2 and hbd3, in a cross between japonica variety, Koshihikari, and indica variety, Habataki, were investigated. Fine mapping of hbd2 resulted in the identification of the causal gene as casein kinase I (CKI1). Further analysis revealed that hbd2-CKI1 allele gains its deleterious function that causes the weakness phenotype by a change of one amino acid. As for the other gene, hbd3 was mapped to the NBS-LRR gene cluster region. It is the most common class of R-gene that triggers the immune signal in response to pathogen attack. Expression analysis of pathogen response marker genes suggested that weakness phenotype in this hybrid breakdown can be attributed to an autoimmune response. So far, this is the first evidence linking autoimmune response to post-zygotic isolation in rice. This finding provides a new insight in understanding the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms establishing post-zygotic isolation in plants.