Grain size and shape are important components of grain yield and quality and have been under selection since cereals were first domesticated. Here, we show that a quantitative trait locus GW8 is synonymous with OsSPL16, which encodes a protein that is a positive regulator of cell proliferation. Higher expression of this gene promotes cell division and grain filling, with positive consequences for grain width and yield in rice. Conversely, a loss-of-function mutation in Basmati rice is associated with the formation of a more slender grain and better quality of appearance. The correlation between grain size and allelic variation at the GW8 locus suggests that mutations within the promoter region were likely selected in rice breeding programs. We also show that a marker-assisted strategy targeted at elite alleles of GS3 and OsSPL16 underlying grain size and shape can be effectively used to simultaneously improve grain quality and yield.
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We thank X. Wei and the China National Rice Research Institute for providing rice germplasm samples. We also thank S. Ge for providing accessions of wild rice and W. Wang for help with nucleotide diversity analysis. This work was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2011CB915403, 2012AA10A301 and 2009CB941501), the Chinese Academy of Sciences (KSCX2-EW-N-01 and KSCX2-EW-J-4) and the National Natural Science Foundation (31130070, U1031002 and 30830074).
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Wang, S., Wu, K., Yuan, Q. et al. Control of grain size, shape and quality by OsSPL16 in rice. Nat Genet 44, 950–954 (2012) doi:10.1038/ng.2327
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