A decline in rice (Oryza sativa L.) production caused by heat stress is one of the biggest concerns resulting from future climate change. Rice spikelets are most susceptible to heat stress at flowering. The early-morning flowering (EMF) trait mitigates heat-induced spikelet sterility at the flowering stage by escaping heat stress during the daytime. We attempted to develop near-isogenic lines (NILs) for EMF in the indica-type genetic background by exploiting the EMF locus from wild rice, O. officinalis (CC genome). A stable quantitative trait locus (QTL) for flower opening time (FOT) was detected on chromosome 3. A QTL was designated as qEMF3 and it shifted FOT by 1.5-2.0h earlier for cv. Nanjing 11 in temperate Japan and cv. IR64 in the Philippine tropics. NILs for EMF mitigated heat-induced spikelet sterility under elevated temperature conditions completing flower opening before reaching 35°C, a general threshold value leading to spikelet sterility. Quantification of FOT of cultivars popular in the tropics and subtropics did not reveal the EMF trait in any of the cultivars tested, suggesting that qEMF3 has the potential to advance FOT of currently popular cultivars to escape heat stress at flowering under future hotter climates. This is the first report to examine rice with the EMF trait through marker-assisted breeding using wild rice as a genetic resource.
Hirabayashi, H., Sasaki, K., Kambe, T., Gannaban, R. B., Miras, M. A., Mendioro, M. S., … Ishimaru, T. (2015). QEMF3, a novel QTL for the early-morning flowering trait from wild rice, Oryza officinalis, to mitigate heat stress damage at flowering in rice, O. sativa. Journal of Experimental Botany, 66(5), 1227–1236. https://doi.org/10.1093/jxb/eru474