Colinearity in gene content and order between rice and closely related grass species has emerged as a powerful tool for gene identification. Using a comparative genetics approach, we have identified the rice genomic region syntenous to the region deleted in the wheat chromosome pairing mutant ph2a, with a view to identifying genes at the Ph2 locus that control meiotic processes. Utilising markers known to reside within the region deleted in ph2a, and data from wheat, barley and rice genetic maps, markers delimiting the region deleted on wheat chromosome 3DS in the ph2a mutant were used to locate the syntenous region on the short arm of rice chromosome 1. A contig of rice genomic sequence was identified from publicly available sequence information and used in blast searches to identify wheat expressed sequence tags (ESTs) exhibiting significant similarity. Southern analysis using a subset of identified wheat ESTs confirmed a syntenous relationship between the rice and wheat genomic regions and defined precisely the extent of the deleted segment in the ph2a mutant. A 6.58-Mb rice contig generated from 60 overlapping rice chromosome 1 P1 artificial chromosome (PAC) clones spanning the syntenous rice region has enabled identification of 218 wheat ESTs putatively located in the region deleted in ph2a. What seems to be a terminal deletion on chromosome 3DS is estimated to be 80 Mb in length. Putative candidate genes that may contribute to the altered meiotic phenotype of ph2a are discussed.
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