Rice cultivars have been adapted to favorable ecological regions and cropping seasons. Although several heading date genes have separately made contributions to this adaptation, the roles of gene combinations are still unclear. We employed a map-based cloning approach to isolate a heading date gene, which coordinated the interaction between Ghd7 and Ghd8 to greatly delay rice heading. We resequenced these three genes in a germplasm collection to analyze natural variation. Map-based cloning demonstrated that the gene largely affecting the interaction between Ghd7 and Ghd8 was Hd1. Natural variation analysis showed that a combination of loss-of-function alleles of Ghd7, Ghd8 and Hd1 contributes to the expansion of rice cultivars to higher latitudes; by contrast, a combination of pre-existing strong alleles of Ghd7, Ghd8 and functional Hd1 (referred as SSF) is exclusively found where ancestral Asian cultivars originated. Other combinations have comparatively larger favorable ecological scopes and acceptable grain yield. Our results indicate that the combinations of Ghd7, Ghd8 and Hd1 largely define the ecogeographical adaptation and yield potential in rice cultivars. Breeding varieties with the SSF combination are recommended for tropical regions to fully utilize available energy and light resources and thus produce greater yields.
Keywords: Oryza rufipogon; Oryza sativa; combinations; ecogeographical adaptation; grain yield; heading date; natural variation.
© 2015 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2015 New Phytologist Trust.