Hybrid Breakdown Caused by Epistasis-Based Recessive Incompatibility in a Cross of Rice (Oryza sativaL.)

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Viability and fertility in organisms depend on epistatic interactions between loci maintained in lineages. Here, we describe reduced fitness of segregants (hybrid breakdown, HB) that emerged in an F2 population derived from a cross between 2 rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars, “Tachisugata” (TS) and “Hokuriku 193” (H193), despite both parents and F1s showing normal fitness. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses detected 13 QTLs for 4 morphological traits associated with the HB and 6 associated with principal component scores calculated from values of the morphological traits in the F2 population. Two-way analysis of variance of the putative QTLs identified 4 QTL pairs showing significant epistasis; among them, a pair on chromosomes 1 and 12 made the greatest contribution to HB. The finding was supported by genetic experiments using F3 progeny. HB emerged only when a plant was homozygous for the TS allele at the QTL on chromosome 1 and homozygous for the H193 allele at the QTL on chromosome 12, indicating that each allele behaves as recessive to the other. Our results support the idea that epistasis is an essential part of hybrid fitness.

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