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Genetic loci regulating arsenic content in rice grains when grown flooded or under alternative wetting and drying irrigation

Norton, Gareth J., Travis, Anthony J., Talukdar, Partha, Hossain, Mahmud, Islam, Md Rafiqul, Douglas, Alex, Price, Adam H.
Rice 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 54
arsenic, breeding programs, drying, genes, haplotypes, high-yielding varieties, irrigation, livelihood, loci, nucleotide sequences, phenotype, quantitative trait loci, rice, shoots, staple crops, toxic substances, water management, India
BACKGROUND: Rice is a global staple crop, being the main calorific component of many people living subsistence livelihoods. Rice can accumulate toxic elements such as arsenic, with the crop water management strongly affecting uptake. This study utilises the Bengal and Assam Aus Panel to conduct genome wide association (GWA) mapping for arsenic in shoots and grains of rice grown over 2 years under continually flooded (CF) and alternate wetting and drying (AWD). The aim was to assess genotype by water management interaction, identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for arsenic accumulation, and propose candidate genes for lowering grain arsenic. RESULTS: AWD significantly reduced grain arsenic across all cultivars on average by 15.7 and 15.1% in year 1 and 2 respectively and shoot arsenic by 27.0% compared to the plants grown under CF. There was a weak cultivar by treatment interaction for grain for arsenic. All traits were strongly influenced by cultivar. GWA mapping identified a large number of 74 individual QTLs for arsenic, with six QTLs showing stability across years and/or water treatments. Three of the loci (one on chromosome 3, one on chromosome 4, and one on chromosome 5) were investigated in detail using an approach of clustering cultivars that had similar haplotypes for the QTL regions and then looking at the phenotypic values across the clusters. Two of the identified QTLs co-localised with known genes involved in arsenic accumulation, including Lsi2 which has not previously been reported to underlie a grain arsenic QTL. CONCLUSIONS: This study has identified a number of novel QTLs for arsenic accumulation, as well as cultivars that consistently accumulate less arsenic over multiple field traits. The use of a haplotype clustering approach after GWA mapping has allowed for the effect, in terms of arsenic accumulation, to be determined for cultivars that share similar genomic sequence. Allocating nine high yielding Bangladeshi cultivars to these clusters has identified the potential of utilising these QTLs in breeding programmes; for example, incorporation of the QTL on chromosome 5 should decrease grain arsenic in elite high yielding Bangladeshi cultivars by 10% in all high yielding cultivars studied.