A 3-bp deletion of WLS5 gene leads to weak growth and early leaf senescence in rice

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Background: In rice (Oryza sativa) and other grains, weak growth (dwarfism, short panicle length, and low seed-setting rate) and early senescence lead to reduced yield. The molecular mechanisms behind these processes have been widely studied; however, the complex genetic regulatory networks controlling growth and senescence require further elucidation. Results: We isolated a mutant exhibiting weak growth throughout development and early senescence of leaf tips, and designated this mutant weakness and leaf senescence5 (wls5). Histological analysis showed that the poor growth of wls5 plants involved a reduction in cell length and number. Physiological analysis and transmission electron microscopy revealed that the wls5 cells had abnormal chloroplasts, and the mutants underwent chlorophyll degradation triggered by accumulation of reactive oxygen species. Consistent with this, RNA sequencing revealed changes in senescence-related gene expression in wls5 plants. The wls5 mutants also exhibited significantly higher stomatal density and altered phytohormone contents compared with wild-type plants. Fine mapping delimited WLS5 to a 29-kb region on chromosome 5. DNA sequencing of wls5 identified a 3-bp deletion in the first exon of LOC_Os05g04900, resulting in a deletion of a lysine in the predicted protein. Knockout of LOC_Os05g04900 in Nipponbare plants caused leaf senescence, confirming this locus as the causal gene for WLS5. Conclusions: We identified a novel mutant (wls5) that affects plant development and leaf senescence in rice. LOC_Os05g04900, encoding a protein of unknown function, is the causal gene for wls5. Further molecular study of WLS5 will uncover the roles of this gene in plant growth and leaf senescence.

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Zhao, C., Liu, C., Zhang, Y., Cui, Y., Hu, H., Jahan, N., … Guo, L. (2019). A 3-bp deletion of WLS5 gene leads to weak growth and early leaf senescence in rice. Rice, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12284-019-0288-8

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