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Carbohydrate metabolism and fertility related genes high expression levels promote heterosis in autotetraploid rice harboring double neutral genes

Chen, Lin, Yuan, Yun, Wu, Jinwen, Chen, Zhixiong, Wang, Lan, Shahid, Muhammad Qasim, Liu, Xiangdong
Rice 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 34
abortion (plants), autotetraploidy, carbohydrate metabolism, chromosomes, flowering, gene expression regulation, genes, heterosis, hybrids, leaves, meiosis, parents, pollen, quantitative trait loci, rice, seed set, starch synthase, tissues, transcriptome, transcriptomics
BACKGROUND: Autotetraploid rice hybrids have great potential to increase the production, but hybrid sterility is a major hindrance in the utilization of hybrid vigor in polyploid rice, which is mainly caused by pollen abortion. Our previous study showed that double pollen fertility neutral genes, Sa-n and Sb-n, can overcome hybrid sterility in autotetraploid rice. Here, we used an autotetraploid rice line harboring double neutral genes to develop hybrids by crossing with auto- and neo-tetraploid rice, and evaluated heterosis and its underlying molecular mechanism. RESULTS: All autotetraploid rice hybrids, which harbored double pollen fertility neutral genes, Sa-n and Sb-n, displayed high seed setting and significant positive heterosis for yield and yield-related traits. Cytological observations revealed normal chromosome behaviors and higher frequency of bivalents in the hybrid than parents during meiosis. Transcriptome analysis revealed significantly higher expressions of important saccharides metabolism and starch synthase related genes, such as OsBEIIb and OsSSIIIa, in the grains of hybrid than parents. Furthermore, many meiosis-related and specific genes, including DPW and CYP703A3, displayed up-regulation in the hybrid compared to a parent with low seed setting. Many non-additive genes were detected in the hybrid, and GO term of carbohydrate metabolic process was significantly enriched in all the transcriptome tissues except flag leaf (three days after flowering). Moreover, many differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified in the yield-related quantitative trait loci (QTLs) regions as possible candidate genes. CONCLUSION: Our results revealed that increase in the number of bivalents improved the seed setting of hybrid harboring double pollen fertility neutral genes. Many important genes, including meiosis-related and meiosis-specific genes and saccharides metabolism and starch synthase related genes, exhibited heterosis specific expression patterns in polyploid rice during different development stages. The functional analysis of important genes will provide valuable information for molecular mechanisms of heterosis in polyploid rice.