Genetic Control of Plasticity in Root Morphology and Anatomy of Rice in Response to Water Deficit.
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Elucidating the genetic control of rooting behavior under water-deficit stress is essential to breed climate-robust rice (Oryza sativa) cultivars. Using a diverse panel of 274 indica genotypes grown under control and water-deficit conditions during vegetative growth, we phenotyped 35 traits, mostly related to root morphology and anatomy, involving 45,000 root-scanning images and nearly 25,000 cross sections from the root-shoot junction. The phenotypic plasticity of these traits was quantified as the relative change in trait value under water-deficit compared with control conditions. We then carried out a genome-wide association analysis on these traits and their plasticity, using 45,608 high-quality single-nucleotide polymorphisms. One hundred four significant loci were detected for these traits under control conditions, 106 were detected under water-deficit stress, and 76 were detected for trait plasticity. We predicted 296 (control), 284 (water-deficit stress), and 233 (plasticity) a priori candidate genes within linkage disequilibrium blocks for these loci. We identified key a priori candidate genes regulating root growth and development and relevant alleles that, upon validation, can help improve rice adaptation to water-deficit stress.
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