Introgression of two chromosome regions for leaf photosynthesis from an indica rice into the genetic background of a japonica rice
To facilitate marker-assisted transfer of desirable genes for improvement of yield traits, we used a set of backcross recombinant inbred lines (BRIL) derived from two elite parental lines, ‘Zhenshan97’ and ‘93-11’, to resolve a quantitative trait loci (QTL) cluster for heading date and yield-related traits in rice. Four main-effect QTL (qHD6.1, qHD6.2, qHD7, and qHD8) and four epistatic QTL affecting heading date in the BRIL were detected in two experimental trials. The major QTL (qHD8) was confirmed in three heterogeneous inbred families (HIF) that segregated for this target region, and narrowed down to a 20-kb segment in a large HIF-derived population. qHD8 was found to interact with qHD7 and had a pleiotropic effect responsible for heading date and yield components. To test usability of the identified QTL in rice improvement, we further developed near-isogenic lines (NIL) containing one or more target genes by marker-assisted transfer of ‘93-11’ alleles at qHD8, qHD7, and qHD6.1, and the GS3 gene for grain size into ‘Zhenshan97’. The pyramid line NIL(qHD8 + GS3) had higher yield potential, longer grains, and a more suitable heading date than ‘Zhenshan97’. Comparison of the NIL showed existence of epistasis between alleles at different loci and background effect on qHD8, which are very important for pyramiding of desirable alleles at the target QTL. These results will be particularly useful not only to understand the genetic basis of yield-related traits but also to improve the efficiency of marker-assisted selection for favorable loci in rice breeding programs.