The rice japonica cultivars Nipponbare and Koshihikari differ in heading date and response of heading to photoperiod (photoperiod sensitivity). Using simple sequence repeat (SSR) and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers, we conducted quantitative trait locus (QTL) analyses for heading date in a set of reciprocal backcross inbred lines (BILs) from crosses between Nipponbare and Koshihikari. Under natural-day conditions, transgressive segregation in days to heading (DTH) toward both early and late heading was observed in both BIL populations. QTL analyses revealed that two QTLs-on chromosomes 3 and 6-were involved in the difference in heading date between the parental cultivars. The Nipponbare allele at the QTLs on chromosomes 3 and 6 showed, respectively, increasing and decreasing effects on DTH in both BIL populations. The transgressive segregation observed in the BILs could be accounted for mainly by the complementary action of a set of alleles with opposing effects. Both QTLs were finely mapped as single Mendelian factors in secondary mapping populations (BC2F2 plants/BC2F3 lines). The QTL on chromosome 3 was mapped in the 1,140-kb interval between 94O03-4 (SSR) and OJ21G19-4 (SNP) and was designated Hd16. The QTL on chromosome 6 was mapped in the 328-kb interval between P548D347 (SSR) and 0007O20 (SSR) and was designated Hd17. Both Hd16 and Hd17 were involved in photoperiod sensitivity, as revealed by observation of the DTH of nearly isogenic lines of Nipponbare under short- and long-day conditions, suggesting that allelic differences in both Hd16 and Hd17 account for most of the difference in photoperiod sensitivity between the parental cultivars.
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