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Nat Genet. 2008 Aug;40(8):1023-8. doi: 10.1038/ng.169. Epub 2008 Jul 6.

Deletion in a gene associated with grain size increased yields during rice domestication.

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Institute of the Society for Techno-Innovation of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, 446-1 Ippaizuka, Kamiyokoba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0854, Japan.


The domestication of crops involves a complex process of selection in plant evolution and is associated with changes in the DNA regulating agronomically important traits. Here we report the cloning of a newly identified QTL, qSW5 (QTL for seed width on chromosome 5), involved in the determination of grain width in rice. Through fine mapping, complementation testing and association analysis, we found that a deletion in qSW5 resulted in a significant increase in sink size owing to an increase in cell number in the outer glume of the rice flower; this trait might have been selected by ancient humans to increase yield of rice grains. In addition, we mapped two other defective functional nucleotide polymorphisms of rice domestication-related genes with genome-wide RFLP polymorphisms of various rice landraces. These analyses show that the qSW5 deletion had an important historical role in artificial selection, propagation of cultivation and natural crossings in rice domestication, and shed light on how the rice genome was domesticated.

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