Genetic dissection and validation of candidate genes for flag leaf size in rice (Oryza sativa L.)
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Two major loci with functional candidate genes were identified and validated affecting flag leaf size, which offer desirable genes to improve leaf architecture and photosynthetic capacity in rice.
Leaf size is a major determinant of plant architecture and yield potential in crops. However, the genetic and molecular mechanisms regulating leaf size remain largely elusive. In this study, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for flag leaf length and flag leaf width in rice were detected with high-density single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping of a chromosomal segment substitution line (CSSL) population, in which each line carries one or a few chromosomal segments from the japonica cultivar Nipponbare in a common background of the indica variety Zhenshan 97. In total, 14 QTLs for flag leaf length and nine QTLs for flag leaf width were identified in the CSSL population. Among them, qFW4-2 for flag leaf width was mapped to a 37-kb interval, with the most likely candidate gene being the previously characterized NAL1. Another major QTL for both flag leaf width and length was delimited by substitution mapping to a small region of 13.5 kb that contains a single gene, Ghd7.1. Mutants of Ghd7.1 generated using CRISPR/CAS9 approach showed reduced leaf size. Allelic variation analyses also validated Ghd7.1 as a functional candidate gene for leaf size, photosynthetic capacity and other yield-related traits. These results provide useful genetic information for the improvement of leaf size and yield in rice breeding programs.
This work was supported by Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (nos. 31671656; 31261140369), and the National High Technology Research and Development of China (no. 2014AA10A604).
Author contribution statement
SY designed and conceived research; XT and RG performed population development and fine mapping; WS and CZ analyzed data; XT conducted transgenic experiments; XT and SY wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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