Drought susceptibility of modern rice varieties: an effect of linkage of drought tolerance with undesirable traits.
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Green Revolution (GR) rice varieties are high yielding but typically drought sensitive. This is partly due to the tight linkage between the loci governing plant height and drought tolerance. This linkage is illustrated here through characterization of qDTY(1.1), a QTL for grain yield under drought that co-segregates with the GR gene sd1 for semi-dwarf plant height. We report that the loss of the qDTY(1.1) allele during the GR was due to its tight linkage in repulsion with the sd1 allele. Other drought-yield QTLs (qDTY) also showed tight linkage with traits rejected in GR varieties. Genetic diversity analysis for 11 different qDTY regions grouped GR varieties separately from traditional drought-tolerant varieties, and showed lower frequency of drought tolerance alleles. The increased understanding and breaking of the linkage between drought tolerance and undesirable traits has led to the development of high-yielding drought-tolerant dwarf lines with positive qDTY alleles and provides new hope for extending the benefits of the GR to drought-prone rice-growing regions.
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