Sci Rep. 2022 Aug 3;12(1):13304. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-17109-y.
Tillering and plant biomass are key determinants of rice crop productivity. Tillering at the vegetative stage is associated with weed competition, nutrient uptake, and methane emissions. However, little information is available on quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with tiller number (qTN), root biomass (qRB), and shoot biomass (qSB) at the active tillering stage which occurs approximately 6 weeks after planting. Here, we mapped tiller and biomass QTLs with ~ 250 recombinant inbred lines derived from a ‘Francis’ by ‘Rondo’ cross using data collected at the maximum tillering stage from two years of greenhouse study, and further compared these QTLs with those mapped at the harvest stage from a field study. Across these three studies, we discovered six qTNs, two qRBs, and three qSBs. Multiple linear regression further indicated that qTN1-2, qTN3-3, qTN4-1, qRB3-1, and qRB5-1 were significant at the maximum tillering stage while qTN3-2 was detected only at the harvest stage. Moreover, qTN3-1 was consistently significant across different developmental stages and growing environments. The genes identified from the peak target qTN regions included a carotenoid metabolism enzyme, a MYB transcription factor, a CBS domain-containing protein, a SAC3/GANP family protein, a TIFY motif containing protein, and an ABC transporter protein. Two genes in the qRB peak target regions included an expressed protein and a WRKY gene. This knowledge of the QTLs, associated markers, candidate genes, and germplasm resources with high TN, RB and SB is of value to rice cultivar improvement programs.