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|Ph.D.||Plant Breeding and Genetics||Cornell University||2011 - 2017||Susan R. McCouch|
|BSc.||Cellular and Molecular Biology||Cornell University||2006 - 2010|
BACKGROUND: Fixed arrays of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers have advantages over reduced representation sequencing in their ease of data analysis, consistently higher call rates, and rapid turnaround times. A 6 K SNP array represents a cost-benefit "sweet spot" for routine genetics and breeding applications in rice. Selection of informative SNPs across species and subpopulations during chip design is essential to obtain useful polymorphism rates for target germplasm groups. This paper summarizes results from large-scale deployment of an Illumina 6 K SNP array for rice.
RESULTS: Design of the Illumina Infinium 6 K SNP chip for rice, referred to as the Cornell_6K_Array_Infinium_Rice (C6AIR), includes 4429 SNPs from re-sequencing data and 1571 SNP markers from previous BeadXpress 384-SNP sets, selected based on polymorphism rate and allele frequency within and between target germplasm groups. Of the 6000 attempted bead types, 5274 passed Illumina's production quality control. The C6AIR was widely deployed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for genetic diversity analysis, QTL mapping, and tracking introgressions and was intensively used at Cornell University for QTL analysis and developing libraries of interspecific chromosome segment substitution lines (CSSLs) between O. sativa and diverse accessions of O. rufipogon or O. meridionalis. Collectively, the array was used to genotype over 40,000 rice samples. A set of 4606 SNP markers was used to provide high quality data for O. sativa germplasm, while a slightly expanded set of 4940 SNPs was used for O. sativa X O. rufipogon populations. Biparental polymorphism rates were generally between 1900 and 2500 well-distributed SNP markers for indica x japonica or interspecific populations and between 1300 and 1500 markers for crosses within indica, while polymorphism rates were lower for pairwise crosses within U.S. tropical japonica germplasm. Recently, a second-generation array containing ~7000 SNP markers, referred to as the C7AIR, was designed by removing poor-performing SNPs from the C6AIR and adding markers selected to increase the utility of the array for elite tropical japonica material.
CONCLUSIONS: The C6AIR has been successfully used to generate rapid and high-quality genotype data for diverse genetics and breeding applications in rice, and provides the basis for an optimized design in the C7AIR.
Harnessing stem carbohydrate dynamics in grasses offers an opportunity to help meet future demands for plant-based food, fiber and fuel production, but requires a greater understanding of the genetic controls that govern the synthesis, interconversion and transport of such energy reserves. We map out a blueprint of the genetic architecture of rice (Oryza sativa) stem nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) at two critical developmental time-points using a subpopulation-specific genome-wide association approach on two diverse germplasm panels followed by quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping in a biparental population. Overall, 26 QTL are identified; three are detected in multiple panels and are associated with starch-at-maturity, sucrose-at-maturity and NSC-at-heading. They tag OsHXK6 (rice hexokinase), ISA2 (rice isoamylase) and a tandem array of sugar transporters. This study provides the foundation for more in-depth molecular investigation to validate candidate genes underlying rice stem NSC and informs future comparative studies in other agronomically vital grass species.
Domestication of crops based on artificial selection has contributed numerous beneficial traits for agriculture. Wild characteristics such as red pericarp and seed shattering were lost in both Asian (Oryza sativa) and African (Oryza glaberrima) cultivated rice species as a result of human selection on common genes. Awnedness, in contrast, is a trait that has been lost in both cultivated species due to selection on different sets of genes. In a previous report, we revealed that at least three loci regulate awn development in rice; however, the molecular mechanism underlying awnlessness remains unknown. Here we isolate and characterize a previously unidentified EPIDERMAL PATTERNING FACTOR-LIKE (EPFL) family member named REGULATOR OF AWN ELONGATION 2 (RAE2) and identify one of its requisite processing enzymes, SUBTILISIN-LIKE PROTEASE 1 (SLP1). The RAE2 precursor is specifically cleaved by SLP1 in the rice spikelet, where the mature RAE2 peptide subsequently induces awn elongation. Analysis of RAE2 sequence diversity identified a highly variable GC-rich region harboring multiple independent mutations underlying protein-length variation that disrupt the function of the RAE2 protein and condition the awnless phenotype in Asian rice. Cultivated African rice, on the other hand, retained the functional RAE2 allele despite its awnless phenotype. Our findings illuminate the molecular function of RAE2 in awn development and shed light on the independent domestication histories of Asian and African cultivated rice.
Resistance in rice cultivars to the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae is complex and is controlled by both major genes and quantitative trait loci (QTLs). We undertook a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using the rice diversity panel 1 (RDP1) that was genotyped using a high-density (700 000 single nucleotide polymorphisms) array and inoculated with five diverse M. oryzae isolates. We identified 97 loci associated with blast resistance (LABRs). Among them, 82 were new regions and 15 co-localized with known blast resistance loci. The top 72 LABRs explained up to 98% of the phenotypic variation. The candidate genes in the LABRs encode nucleotide-binding site leucine-rich repeat (NBS-LRR) resistance proteins, receptor-like protein kinases, transcription factors and defence-related proteins. Among them, LABR_64 was strongly associated with resistance to all five isolates. We analysed the function of candidate genes underlying LABR_64 using RNA interference (RNAi) technology and identified two new resistance alleles at the Pi5 locus. We demonstrate an efficient strategy for rapid allele discovery using the power of GWAS, coupled with RNAi technology, for the dissection of complex blast resistance in rice.
High CO2 and high temperature have an antagonistic interaction effect on rice yield potential and present a unique challenge to adapting rice to projected future climates. Understanding how the differences in response to these two abiotic variables are partitioned across rice germplasm accessions may be key to identifying potentially useful sources of resilient alleles for adapting rice to climate change. In this study, we evaluated eleven globally diverse rice accessions under controlled conditions at two carbon dioxide concentrations (400 and 600 ppm) and four temperature environments (29 °C day/21 °C night; 29 °C day/21 °C night with additional heat stress at anthesis; 34 °C day/26 °C night; and 34 °C day/26 °C night with additional heat stress at anthesis) for a suite of traits including five yield components, five growth characteristics, one phenological trait, and four photosynthesis-related measurements. Multivariate analyses of mean trait data from these eight treatments divide our rice panel into two primary groups consistent with the genetic classification of INDICA/INDICA-like and JAPONICA populations. Overall, we find that the productivity of plants grown under elevated [CO2 ] was more sensitive (negative response) to high temperature stress compared with that of plants grown under ambient [CO2 ] across this diversity panel. We report differential response to CO2 × temperature interaction for INDICA/INDICA-like and JAPONICA rice accessions and find preliminary evidence for the beneficial introduction of exotic alleles into cultivated rice genomic background. Overall, these results support the idea of using wild or currently unadapted gene pools in rice to enhance breeding efforts to secure future climate change adaptation.
Rice plants (Oryza sativa) accumulate excess photoassimilates in the form of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs) in their stems prior to heading that can later be mobilized to supplement photosynthate production during grain-filling. Despite longstanding interest in stem NSC for rice improvement, the dynamics of NSC accumulation, remobilization, and re-accumulation that have genetic potential for optimization have not been systematically investigated. Here we conducted three pilot experiments to lay the groundwork for large-scale diversity studies on rice stem NSC. We assessed the relationship of stem NSC components with 21 agronomic traits in large-scale, tropical yield trials using 33 breeder-nominated lines, established an appropriate experimental design for future genetic studies using a Bayesian framework to sample sub-datasets from highly replicated greenhouse data using 36 genetically diverse genotypes, and used 434 phenotypically divergent rice stem samples to develop two partial least-squares (PLS) models using near-infrared (NIR) spectra for accurate, rapid prediction of rice stem starch, sucrose, and total non-structural carbohydrates. We find evidence that stem reserves are most critical for short-duration varieties and suggest that pre-heading stem NSC is worthy of further experimentation for breeding early maturing rice.
A long awn is one of the distinct morphological features of wild rice species. This organ is thought to aid in seed dispersal and prevent predation by animals. Most cultivated varieties of Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima, however, have lost the ability to form long awns. The causal genetic factors responsible for the loss of awn in these two rice species remain largely unknown. Here, we evaluated three sets of chromosome segment substitution lines (CSSLs) in a common O. sativa genetic background (cv. Koshihikari) that harbor genomic fragments from Oryza nivara, Oryza rufipogon, and Oryza glaberrima donors. Phenotypic analyses of these libraries revealed the existence of three genes, Regulator of Awn Elongation 1 (RAE1), RAE2, and RAE3, involved in the loss of long awns in cultivated rice. Donor segments at two of these genes, RAE1 and RAE2, induced long awn formation in the CSSLs whereas an O. sativa segment at RAE3 induced long awn formation in O. glaberrima. These results suggest that the two cultivated rice species, O. sativa and O. glaberrima, have taken independent paths to become awnless.
Common wild rice (Oryza rufipogon), the wild relative of Asian cultivated rice (Oryza sativa), flaunts long, barbed awns, which are necessary for efficient propagation and dissemination of seeds. By contrast, O. sativa cultivars have been selected to be awnless or to harbor short, barbless awns, which facilitate seed processing and storage. The transition from long, barbed awns to short, barbless awns was a crucial event in rice domestication. Here, we show that the presence of long, barbed awns in wild rice is controlled by a major gene on chromosome 4, LONG AND BARBED AWN1 (LABA1), which encodes a cytokinin-activating enzyme. A frame-shift deletion in LABA1 of cultivated rice reduces the cytokinin concentration in awn primordia, disrupting barb formation and awn elongation. Sequencing analysis demonstrated low nucleotide diversity and a selective sweep encompassing an ∼800-kb region around the derived laba1 allele in cultivated rice. Haplotype analysis revealed that the laba1 allele originated in the japonica subspecies and moved into the indica gene pool via introgression, suggesting that humans selected for this locus in early rice domestication. Identification of LABA1 provides new insights into rice domestication and also sheds light on the molecular mechanism underlying awn development.