A Novel Tiller Angle Gene, TAC3, together with TAC1 and D2 Largely Determine the Natural Variation of Tiller Angle in Rice Cultivars

PLoS Genet. 2016 Nov 4;12(11):e1006412. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006412. eCollection 2016 Nov.


Tiller angle is one of the most important components of the ideal plant architecture that can greatly enhance rice grain yield. Understanding the genetic basis of tiller angle and mining favorable alleles will be helpful for breeding new plant-type varieties. Here, we performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify genes controlling tiller angle using 529 diverse accessions of Oryza sativa including 295 indica and 156 japonica accessions in two environments. We identified 7 common quantitative trait loci (QTLs), including the previously reported major gene Tiller Angle Control 1 (TAC1), in the two environments, 10 and 13 unique QTLs in Hainan and Wuhan, respectively. More QTLs were identified in indica than in japonica, and three major QTLs (qTA3, qTA1b/DWARF2 (D2) and qTA9c/TAC1) were fixed in japonica but segregating in indica, which explained the wider variation observed in indica compared with that in japonica. No common QTLs were identified between the indica and japonica subpopulations. Mutant analysis for the candidate gene of qTA3 on chromosome 3 indicated a novel gene, Tiller Angle Control 3 (TAC3), encoding a conserved hypothetical protein controlling tiller angle. TAC3 is preferentially expressed in the tiller base. The ebisu dwarf (d2) mutant exhibited a decreased tiller angle, in addition to its previously described abnormal phenotype. A nucleotide diversity analysis revealed that TAC3, D2 and TAC1 have been subjected to selection during japonica domestication. A haplotype analysis identified favorable alleles of TAC3, D2 and TAC1, which may be used for breeding plants with an ideal architecture. In conclusion, there is a diverse genetic basis for tiller angle between the two subpopulations, and it is the novel gene TAC3 together with TAC1, D2, and other newly identified genes in this study that controls tiller angle in rice cultivars.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Breeding
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Edible Grain / genetics
  • Edible Grain / growth & development
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Haplotypes
  • Oryza / genetics*
  • Oryza / growth & development
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Plant Proteins

Grant support

This work was supported by National Key Special Programs for Breeding (2016YFD0100403) from the Ministry of Science and Technology http://www.most.gov.cn/, the National Science Foundation of China (91335201) http://www.nsfc.gov.cn/ and Natural Science Foundation of Hubei province (2015CFA006) http://www.hbstd.gov.cn/. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.