Letter | Published:

The OsSPL16-GW7 regulatory module determines grain shape and simultaneously improves rice yield and grain quality

Nature Genetics volume 47, pages 949954 (2015) | Download Citation



The deployment of heterosis in the form of hybrid rice varieties has boosted grain yield, but grain quality improvement still remains a challenge. Here we show that a quantitative trait locus for rice grain quality, qGW7, reflects allelic variation of GW7, a gene encoding a TONNEAU1-recruiting motif protein with similarity to C-terminal motifs of the human centrosomal protein CAP350. Upregulation of GW7 expression was correlated with the production of more slender grains, as a result of increased cell division in the longitudinal direction and decreased cell division in the transverse direction. OsSPL16 (GW8), an SBP-domain transcription factor that regulates grain width, bound directly to the GW7 promoter and repressed its expression. The presence of a semidominant GW7TFA allele from tropical japonica rice was associated with higher grain quality without the yield penalty imposed by the Basmati gw8 allele. Manipulation of the OsSPL16-GW7 module thus represents a new strategy to simultaneously improve rice yield and grain quality.

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We thank G. Zhang (South China Agricultural University) for providing the single-segment substitution lines (W23-19-6-7-19-3 and W3-20-28-2-8). This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (91335207 and 31130070), the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012AA10A301) and the National Special Project of China (2014ZX0800935B).

Author information


  1. State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.

    • Shaokui Wang
    • , Shan Li
    • , Qian Liu
    • , Kun Wu
    • , Jianqing Zhang
    • , Shuansuo Wang
    • , Yi Wang
    • , Xiangbin Chen
    • , Yi Zhang
    • , Caixia Gao
    •  & Xiangdong Fu
  2. State Key Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Subtropical Agro-Bioresources, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, China.

    • Shaokui Wang
  3. Rice Research Institute of the Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Guangzhou, China.

    • Feng Wang
  4. Jiaxing Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Jiaxing, China.

    • Haixiang Huang


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Shaokui Wang performed most of the experiments. S.L. and F.W. conducted QTL analysis. K.W. and Y.W. developed the NILs. Y.Z. and C.G. performed rice transformation. S.L. and Q.L. analyzed genetic diversity. K.W. and H.H. analyzed grain quality. Shuansuo Wang and J.Z. performed yeast two-hybrid screening. X.C. and Shaokui Wang performed ChIP and EMSA assays. X.F. designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript. All authors have discussed the results and contributed to the drafting of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xiangdong Fu.

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