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Identification of heading date quantitative trait locus Hd6 and characterization of its epistatic interactions with Hd2 in rice using advanced backcross progeny.

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A backcrossed population (BC(4)F(2)) derived from a cross between a japonica rice variety, Nipponbare, as the recurrent parent and an indica rice variety, Kasalath, as the donor parent showed a long-range variation in days to heading. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis revealed that two QTL, one on chromosome 3, designated Hd6, and another on chromosome 2, designated Hd7, were involved in this variation; and Hd6 was precisely mapped as a single Mendelian factor by using progeny testing (BC(4)F(3)). The nearly isogenic line with QTL (QTL-NIL) that carries the chromosomal segment from Kasalath for the Hd6 region in Nipponbare's genetic background was developed by marker-assisted selection. In a day-length treatment test, the QTL-NIL for Hd6 prominently increased days to heading under a 13.5-hr day length compared with the recurrent parent, Nipponbare, suggesting that Hd6 controls photoperiod sensitivity. QTL analysis of the F(2) population derived from a cross between the QTL-NILs revealed existence of an epistatic interaction between Hd2, which is one of the photoperiod sensitivity genes detected in a previous analysis, and Hd6. The day-length treatment tests of these QTL-NILs, including the line introgressing both Hd2 and Hd6, also indicated an epistatic interaction for photoperiod sensitivity between them.

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