Source size, sink size and heading date (HD) are three important classes of traits that determine the productivity of rice. In this study, a set of recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from the cross between an elite indica line Big Grain1 (BG1) and a japonica line Xiaolijing (XLJ) were used to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for source-sink size and heading date. Totally, thirty-one QTLs for source size, twenty-two for sink size, four for heading date and seven QTL clusters which included QTLs for multiple traits were identified in three environmental trials. Thirty QTLs could be consistently detected in at least two trials and generally located in the clusters. Using a set of BC4F2lines, the QTL cluster in C5-1-C5-2 on chromosome 5 was validated to be a major QTL pleiotropically affecting heading date, source size (flag leaf area) and panicle type (neck length of panicle, primary branching number and the ratio of secondary branching number to primary branching number), and was narrowed down to a 309.52Kb region. QTL clusters described above have a large effect on source-sink size and/or heading date, therefore they should be good resources to improve the adaptability and high yield potential of cultivars genetically.
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