Ef-cd locus shortens rice maturity duration without yield penalty

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Sep 10;116(37):18717-18722. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1815030116. Epub 2019 Aug 26.


The contradiction between "high yielding" and "early maturing" hampers further improvement of annual rice yield. Here we report the positional cloning of a major maturity duration regulatory gene, Early flowering-completely dominant (Ef-cd), and demonstrate that natural variation in Ef-cd could be used to overcome the above contradictory. The Ef-cd locus gives rise to a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) antisense transcript overlapping the OsSOC1 gene. Ef-cd lncRNA expression positively correlates with the expression of OsSOC1 and H3K36me3 deposition. Field test comparisons of early maturing Ef-cd near-isogenic lines with their wild types as well as of the derivative early maturing hybrids with their wild-type hybrids conducted under different latitudes determined that the early maturing Ef-cd allele shortens maturity duration (ranging from 7 to 20 d) without a concomitant yield penalty. Ef-cd facilitates nitrogen utilization and also improves the photosynthesis rate. Analysis of 1,439 elite hybrid rice varieties revealed that the 16 homozygotes and 299 heterozygotes possessing Ef-cd matured significantly earlier. Therefore, Ef-cd could be a vital contributor of elite early maturing hybrid varieties in balancing grain yield with maturity duration.

Keywords: heading date; lncRNA; rice; yield.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crop Production
  • Edible Grain / growth & development*
  • Flowers
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Histones / metabolism
  • MADS Domain Proteins / genetics
  • Oryza / growth & development*
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Histones
  • MADS Domain Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Long Noncoding