Plants produce structurally diverse secondary (specialized) metabolites to increase their fitness for survival under adverse environments. Several bioactive compounds for new drugs have been identified through screening of plant extracts. In this study, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were conducted to investigate the genetic architecture behind the natural variation of rice secondary metabolites. GWAS using the metabolome data of 175 rice accessions successfully identified 323 associations among 143 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and 89 metabolites. The data analysis highlighted that levels of many metabolites are tightly associated with a small number of strong quantitative trait loci (QTLs). The tight association may be a mechanism generating strains with distinct metabolic composition through the crossing of two different strains. The results indicate that one plant species produces more diverse phytochemicals than previously expected, and plants still contain many useful compounds for human applications.
Keywords: Oryza sativa; genome-wide association study; metabolome analysis; natural variation; secondary metabolites.
© 2014 The Authors The Plant Journal published by Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.