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Natural Variation Of Rice Strigolactone Biosynthesis Is Associated With The Deletion Of Two MAX1 Orthologs

C. Cardoso, Yanxia Zhang, Muhammad Jamil, Jo Hepworth, T. Charnikhova, S. Dimkpa, C. Meharg, M. Wright, Junwei Liu, Xiangbing Meng, Yonghong Wang, Jiayang Li, S. McCouch, O. Leyser, A. Price, H. Bouwmeester, C. Ruyter-Spira
Published 2014 · Biology, Medicine

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Significance Strigolactones are a new class of plant hormones regulating plant shoot and root architecture in response to the environment. Also present in root exudates, strigolactones stimulate the germination of parasitic plant seeds. This report describes a genomic polymorphism—associated with the Indica/Japonica subspecies divide in rice that has a major impact on the biosynthesis of strigolactones, plant tillering, and germination of the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica—consisting of the deletion of two strigolactone biosynthetic genes orthologous to Arabidopsis MAX1. Both of these genes rescued the Arabidopsis max1-1 highly branched mutant phenotype and increased the strigolactone level when overexpressed in the Indica rice variety Bala. This finding is of great interest for plant physiologists, plant evolutionary biologists, and breeders. Rice (Oryza sativa) cultivar Azucena—belonging to the Japonica subspecies—exudes high strigolactone (SL) levels and induces high germination of the root parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. Consistent with the fact that SLs also inhibit shoot branching, Azucena is a low-tillering variety. In contrast, Bala, an Indica cultivar, is a low-SL producer, stimulates less Striga germination, and is highly tillered. Using a Bala × Azucena F6 population, a major quantitative trait loci—qSLB1.1—for the exudation of SL, tillering, and induction of Striga germination was detected on chromosome 1. Sequence analysis of the corresponding locus revealed a rearrangement of a 51- to 59-kbp stretch between 28.9 and 29 Mbp in the Bala genome, resulting in the deletion of two cytochrome P450 genes—SLB1 and SLB2—with high homology to the Arabidopsis SL biosynthesis gene, MAX1. Both rice genes rescue the Arabidopsis max1-1 highly branched mutant phenotype and increase the production of the SL, ent-2′-epi-5-deoxystrigol, when overexpressed in Bala. Furthermore, analysis of this region in 367 cultivars of the publicly available Rice Diversity Panel population shows that the rearrangement at this locus is a recurrent natural trait associated with the Indica/Japonica divide in rice.
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