Hanlon, MT, P Vejchasarn, JE Fonta, HM Schneider, SR McCouch, KM Brown


BMC Plant Biology 23:6

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Background: Genome wide association (GWA) studies demonstrate linkages between genetic variants and traits of interest. Here, we tested associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in rice (Oryza sativa) and two root hair traits, root hair length (RHL) and root hair density (RHD). Root hairs are outgrowths of single cells on the root epidermis that aid in nutrient and water acquisition and have also served as a model system to study cell differentiation and tip growth. Using lines from the Rice Diversity Panel-1, we explored the diversity of root hair length and density across four subpopulations of rice (aus, indica, temperate japonica, and tropical japonica). GWA analysis was completed using the high-density rice array (HDRA) and the rice reference panel (RICE-RP) SNP sets.

Results: We identified 18 genomic regions related to root hair traits, 14 of which related to RHD and four to RHL. No genomic regions were significantly associated with both traits. Two regions overlapped with previously identified quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with root hair density in rice. We identified candidate genes in these regions and present those with previously published expression data relevant to root hair development. We re-phenotyped a subset of lines with extreme RHD phenotypes and found that the variation in RHD was due to differences in cell differentiation, not cell size, indicating genes in an associated genomic region may influence root hair cell fate. The candidate genes that we identified showed little overlap with previously characterized genes in rice and Arabidopsis.

Conclusions: Root hair length and density are quantitative traits with complex and independent genetic control in rice. The genomic regions described here could be used as the basis for QTL development and further analysis of the genetic control of root hair length and density. We present a list of candidate genes involved in root hair formation and growth in rice, many of which have not been previously identified as having a relation to root hair growth. Since little is known about root hair growth in grasses, these provide a guide for further research and crop improvement