Background: Rice is the second most produced crop worldwide, but is highly susceptible to drought. Micro-organisms can potentially alleviate the effects of drought. The aim of the present study was to unravel the genetic factors involved in the rice-microbe interaction, and whether genetics play a role in rice drought tolerance. For this purpose, the composition of the root mycobiota was characterized in 296 rice accessions (Oryza sativa L. subsp. indica) under control and drought conditions. Genome wide association mapping (GWAS) resulted in the identification of ten significant (LOD > 4) single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with six root-associated fungi: Ceratosphaeria spp., Cladosporium spp., Boudiera spp., Chaetomium spp., and with a few fungi from the Rhizophydiales order. Four SNPs associated with fungi-mediated drought tolerance were also found. Genes located around those SNPs, such as a DEFENSIN-LIKE (DEFL) protein, EXOCYST TETHERING COMPLEX (EXO70), RAPID ALKALINIZATION FACTOR-LIKE (RALFL) protein, peroxidase and xylosyltransferase, have been shown to be involved in pathogen defense, abiotic stress responses and cell wall remodeling processes. Our study shows that rice genetics affects the recruitment of fungi, and that some fungi affect yield under drought. We identified candidate target genes for breeding to improve rice-fungal interactions and hence drought tolerance.
- Oryza sativa (rice)
- Root mycobiota
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