Background and Aims
Submergence is a recurring problem in the rice-producing rainfed lowlands of south and south-east Asia. Developing rice cultivars with tolerance of submergence and with agronomic and quality traits acceptable to farmers is a feasible approach to address this problem. The objectives of this study were to (a) develop mega varieties with Sub1 introgression that are submergence tolerant, (b) assess the performance of Sub1 in different genetic backgrounds, (c) determine the roles of the Sub1A and Sub1C genes in conferring tolerance, and (d) assess the level of tolerance in F1 hybrids heterozygous for the Sub1A-1-tolerant allele.
Tolerant varieties were developed by marker-assisted backcrossing through two or three backcrosses, and their performance was evaluated to determine the effect of Sub1 in different genetic backgrounds. The roles of Sub1A and Sub1C in conferring the tolerant phenotype were further investigated using recombinants identified within the Sub1 gene cluster based on survival and gene expression data.
All mega varieties with Sub1 introgression had a significantly higher survival rate than the original parents. An intolerant Sub1C allele combined with the tolerant Sub1A-1 allele did not significantly reduce the level of tolerance, and the Sub1C-1 expression appeared to be independent of the Sub1A allele; however, even when Sub1C-1 expression is completely turned off in the presence of Sub1A-2, plants remained intolerant. Survival rates and Sub1A expression were significantly lower in heterozygotes compared with the homozygous tolerant parent.
Sub1 provided a substantial enhancement in the level of tolerance of all the sensitive mega varieties. Sub1A is confirmed as the primary contributor to tolerance, while Sub1C alleles do not seem important. Lack of dominance of Sub1 suggests that the Sub1A-1 allele should be carried by both parents for developing tolerant rice hybrids.