Background: Breeding for genes controlling key agronomic traits is an important goal of rice genetic improvement. To gain insight into genes controlling grain morphology, we screened M-3 plants derived from 1,000 whole-genome sequenced (WGS) M-2 Kitaake mutants to identify lines with altered grain size.
Results: In this study, we isolated a mutant, named fast-neutron (FN) 60-4, which exhibits a significant reduction in grain size. We crossed FN60-4 with the parental line Kitaake and analyzed the resulting backcross population. Segregation analysis of 113 lines from the BC2F2 population revealed that the mutant phenotype is controlled by a single semi-dominant locus. Mutant FN60-4 is reduced 20% in plant height and 8.8% in 1000-grain weight compared with Kitaake. FN60-4 also exhibits an 8% reduction in cell number and a 9% reduction in cell length along the vertical axis of the glume. We carried out whole-genome sequencing of DNA pools extracted from segregants with long grains or short grains, and revealed that one gene, LOC_Os09g02650, cosegregated with the grain size phenotype in the BC1F2 and BC2F2 populations. This mutant allele was named grain shape 9-1 (gs9-1). gs9-1 carries a 3-bp deletion that affects two amino acids. This locus is a new allele of the BC12/GDD1/MTD1 gene that encodes a kinesin-like protein involved in cell-cycle progression, cellulose microfibril deposition and gibberellic acid (GA) biosynthesis. The GA biosynthesis-related gene KO2 is down-regulated in gs9-1. The dwarf phenotype of gs9-1 can be rescued by adding exogenous GA(3). In contrast to the phenotypes for the other alleles, the gs9-1 is less severe, consistent with the nature of the mutation, which does not disrupt the open reading frame as observed for the other alleles.
Conclusions: In this study, we isolated a mutant, which exhibits altered grain shape and identified the mutated gene, gs9-1. Our study reveals that gs9-1 is a semi-dominant gene that carries a two-amino acid mutation. gs9-1 is allelic to the BC12/GDD1/MTD1 gene involved in GA biosynthesis. These results demonstrate the efficiency and convenience of cloning genes from the whole-genome sequenced Kitaake mutant population to advance investigations into genes controlling key agronomic traits in rice.