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Rice (N Y). 2015 Dec;8(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s12284-015-0053-6. Epub 2015 Jul 24.

Mapping Consistent Rice (Oryza sativa L.) Yield QTLs under Drought Stress in Target Rainfed Environments.

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Centre for Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, 641 003, India,



Drought stress is a major limitation to rainfed rice production and yield stability. Identifying yield-associated quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that are consistent under drought stress predominant in target production environments, as well as across different genetic backgrounds, will help to develop high-yielding rice cultivars suitable for water-limited environments through marker-assisted breeding (MAB). Considerable progress has been made in mapping QTLs for drought resistance traits in rice; however, few have been successfully used in MAB.


Recombinant inbred lines of IR20 × Nootripathu, two indica cultivars adapted to rainfed target populations of environments (TPEs), were evaluated in one and two seasons under managed stress and in a rainfed target drought stress environment, respectively. In the managed stress environment, the severity of the stress meant that measurements could be made only on secondary traits and biomass. In the target environment, the lines experienced varying timings, durations, and intensities of drought stress. The rice recombinant inbred lines exhibited significant genotypic variation for physio-morphological, phenological, and plant production traits under drought. Nine and 24 QTLs for physio-morphological and plant production traits were identified in managed and natural drought stress conditions in the TPEs, respectively. Yield QTLs that were consistent in the target environment over seasons were identified on chromosomes 1, 4, and 6, which could stabilize the productivity in high-yielding rice lines in a water-limited rainfed ecosystem. These yield QTLs also govern highly heritable key secondary traits, such as leaf drying, canopy temperature, panicle harvest index and harvest index.


Three QTL regions on chromosome 1 (RM8085), chromosome 4 (I12S), and chromosome 6 (RM6836) harbor significant additive QTLs for various physiological and yield traits under drought stress. The similar chromosomal region on 4 and 6 were found to harbor QTLs for canopy temperature and leaf drying under drought stress conditions. Thus, the identified large effect yield QTLs could be introgressed to develop rice lines with stable yields under varying natural drought stress predominant in TPEs.

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