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Plant Physiol. 2011 Aug;156(4):1905-20. doi: 10.1104/pp.111.178046. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Heterosis in rice seedlings: its relationship to gibberellin content and expression of gibberellin metabolism and signaling genes.

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National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement and National Center of Plant Gene Research, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China.


Despite the accumulation of data on the genetic and molecular understanding of heterosis, there is little information on the regulation of heterosis at the physiological level. In this study, we performed a quantitative analysis of endogenous gibberellin (GA) content and expression profiling of the GA metabolism and signaling genes to investigate the possible relationship between GA signaling and heterosis for seedling development in rice (Oryza sativa). The materials used were an incomplete diallele set of 3 × 3 crosses and the six parents. In the growing shoots of the seedlings at 20 d after sowing, significant positive correlations between the contents of some GA species and performance and heterosis based on shoot dry mass were detected. Expression analyses of GA-related genes by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction revealed that 13 out of the 16 GA-related genes examined exhibited significant differential expression among the F1 hybrid and its parents, acting predominantly in the modes of overdominance and positive dominance. Expression levels of nine genes in the hybrids displayed significant positive correlations with the heterosis of shoot dry mass. These results imply that GAs play a positive role in the regulation of heterosis for rice seedling development. In shoots plus root axes of 4-d-old germinating seeds that had undergone the deetiolation, mimicking normal germination in soil, the axis dry mass was positively correlated with the content of GA₂₉ but negatively correlated with that of GA₁₉. Our findings provide supporting evidence for GAs playing an important regulatory role in heterosis for rice seedling development.

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