A single nucleotide polymorphism in the Waxy gene explains a significant component of gel consistency
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Gel consistency (GC) is a standard assay used in rice improvement programmes to determine whether rice cultivars/breeding lines of high amylose content are soft or firm textured when cooked. In this study, we show that sequence variation in exon 10 of the Waxy (Wx) gene associates with GC using RILs derived from parents with high amylose content that differ in GC. The association was validated using a diverse set of traditional varieties, selected on the basis of amylose content, from the generation challenge programme. Structural investigations to explain how the mutation leads to differences in GC showed a strong association between GC and the proportion of amylose that leaches. It was shown that cooked rices of hard GC do not change in hardness over 24 h, whereas rices of soft GC retrograde significantly over 24 h. This leads to the conclusion that the mutation on exon 10 of the Wx gene affects the proportion of amylose bound to amylopectin and the proportion able to leach, and these structural differences alter the composition of the gel, which affects the amount of time the gel takes to reach a final hardness. The SNP described here completes the set of markers required to genotype for the current traits of cooking quality, but selecting the allele for soft texture has the negative result of also selecting for retrogradation potential.
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