The exploitation of heterosis through intersubspecific hybridisation between indica and japonica has been a major breeding target in rice, but is marred by the cross incompatibility between the genomes. Wide compatibility (WC) is a triallelic system at the S5 locus on chromosome 6 that ensures the specificity of hybridisation within and between indica and japonica. The S5n allele that favours intercrossing is sparsely distributed in the rice gene pool and therefore warrants identification of diverse WC sources to develop superior intersubspecific hybrids. In this study, we have identified several novel WC sources through the marker-assisted screening of a large set of 950 rice genotypes. Seventeen percent of the genotypes carried S5n, which fell into two subpopulations. The WC genotypes showed wide phenotypic and genotypic variability, including both indica and japonica lines. Based on phenotypic performance, the WC varieties were grouped into three clusters. A subset of 41 WC varieties was used to develop 164 hybrids, of which WC/japonica hybrids showed relative superiority over WC/indica hybrids. The multilocation evaluation of hybrids indicated that hybrids derived from WC varieties, such as IRG137, IRG143, OYR128, and IRGC10658, were higher yielding across all the three different locations. Most of the hybrids showed the stability of performance across locations. The identified diverse set of wide compatible varieties (WCVs) can be used in the development of intersubspecific hybrids and also for parental line development in hybrid rice breeding.
Keywords: S5n; indica-japonica; inter sub-species hybridization; wide compatible varieties.