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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 17;106(11):4555-60. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812092106. Epub 2009 Feb 25.

Variations in Hd1 proteins, Hd3a promoters, and Ehd1 expression levels contribute to diversity of flowering time in cultivated rice.

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Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, Ikoma, Nara 630-0101, Japan.


Rice is a facultative short-day plant, and molecular genetic studies have identified the major genes involved in short-day flowering. However, the molecular mechanisms promoting the diversity of flowering time in cultivated rice are not known. We used a core collection of 64 rice cultivars that represent the genetic diversity of 332 accessions from around the world and studied the expression levels and polymorphisms of 6 genes in the short-day flowering pathway. The RNA levels of Heading date 3a (Hd3a), encoding a floral activator, are highly correlated with flowering time, and there is a high degree of polymorphism in the Heading date 1 (Hd1) protein, which is a major regulator of Hd3a expression. Functional and nonfunctional alleles of Hd1 are associated with early and late flowering, respectively, suggesting that Hd1 is a major determinant of variation in flowering time of cultivated rice. We also found that the type of Hd3a promoter and the level of Ehd1 expression contribute to the diversity in flowering time and Hd3a expression level. We evaluated the contributions of these 3 factors by a statistical analysis using a simple linear model, and the results supported our experimental observations.

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