Deepwater rice possesses internode elongation ability to avoid drowning under deepwater conditions. Previous studies identified three QTLs regulating internode elongation ability on chromosomes 1, 3 and 12 using different populations. However, these QTLs only induce internode elongation in response to deepwater conditions from the 7-leaf stage and not during the early leaf stage. In this study, we detected two novel QTLs, qTIL2 and qTIL4 regulating deepwater response at the early leaf stage using an F2 population derived from the cross between NIL1-3-12 carrying the three QTLs regulating deepwater response in T65 (O. sativa ssp. japonica) genetic background and C9285 (O. sativa ssp. indica, deepwater rice). Plants of the BC2F2 population derived from NIL1-3-12/C9285 and the RILs of T65/Bhadua (O. sativa ssp. indica, deepwater rice) possessing these QTLs as well as the three QTLs previously identified also showed internode elongation during the early leaf stage. These results indicate that qTIL2 and qTIL4 regulate early internode elongation and function in coordination with the three major QTLs under deepwater conditions. The results presented here would not only help define the mechanism of deepwater response in rice but also contribute in the breeding of deepwater tolerant rice that is adapted to various water depths.
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