Evolutionary analysis of the Sub1 gene cluster that confers submergence tolerance to domesticated rice

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Abstract

Background and Aims

Tolerance of complete submergence is recognized in a small number of accessions of domesticated Asian rice (Oryza sativa) and can be conferred by the Sub1A-1 gene of the polygenic Submergence-1 (Sub1) locus. In all O. sativa varieties, the Sub1 locus encodes the ethylene-responsive factor (ERF) genes Sub1B and Sub1C. A third paralogous ERF gene, Sub1A, is limited to a subset of indica accessions. It is thought that O. sativa was domesticated from the gene pools of the wild perennial species O. rufipogon Griff. and/or the annual species O. nivara Sharma et Shastry. The aim of this study was to evaluate the orthologues of the Sub1 locus in the closest relatives of O. sativa to provide insight into the origin of the gene and allelic variation of the Sub1 locus.

Methods

Orthologues of the Sub1 genes were isolated from O. rufipogon and O. nivara by use of oligonucleotide primers corresponding to the most highly conserved regions of the Sub1 genes of domesticated rice. The phylogenetic relatedness of Sub1 genes of O. sativa and its wild relatives was evaluated.

Key Results and Conclusions

Both O. rufipogon and O. nivara possess two Sub1 gene orthologues with strong sequence identity to the Sub1B and Sub1C alleles of cultivated rice. The phylogeny of the Sub1 genes of the domesticated and wild rice suggests that Sub1A arose from duplication of Sub1B. Variation in Sub1B alleles is correlated with the absence or presence of Sub1A. Together, the results indicate that genetic variation at the Sub1 locus is due to gene duplication and divergence that have occurred both prior to and after rice domestication.

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