Nature genetics 2009 4
Natural variation at the DEP1 locus enhances grain yield in rice.
Grain yield is controlled by quantitative trait loci (QTLs) derived from natural variations in many crop plants. Here we report the molecular characterization of a major rice grain yield QTL that acts through the determination of panicle architecture. The dominant allele at the DEP1 locus is a gain-of-function mutation causing truncation of a phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein-like domain protein. The effect of this allele is to enhance meristematic activity, resulting in a reduced length of the inflorescence internode, an increased number of grains per panicle and a consequent increase in grain yield. This allele is common to many Chinese high-yielding rice varieties and likely represents a relatively recent introduction into the cultivated rice gene pool. We also show that a functionally equivalent allele is present in the temperate cereals and seems to have arisen before the divergence of the wheat and barley lineages.