Marker-assisted introgression and stacking of major qtls controlling grain number (Gn1a) and number of primary branching (wfp) to nerica cultivars
The era of the green revolution has significantly improved rice yield productivity. However, with the growing population and decreasing arable land, rice scientists must find new ways to improve rice productivity. Although hundreds of rice yield-related QTLs were already mapped and some of them were cloned, only a few were utilized for actual systematic introgression breeding programs. In this study, the major yield QTLs Grain Number 1a (Gn1a) and Wealthy Farmer’s Panicle (WFP) were introgressed and stacked in selected NERICA cultivars by marker-assisted backcross breeding (MABB). The DNA markers RM3360, RM3452, and RM5493 were used for foreground selection. At BC3 F4 and BC3 F5 generation, a combination of marker-assisted selection and phenotypic evaluation were carried out to select lines with target alleles and traits. Further, genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) was conducted to validate the introgression and determine the recurrent parent genome recovery (RPGR) of the selected lines. The Gn1a and/or WFP introgression lines showed significantly higher numbers of spikelets per panicle and primary branching compared to the recurrent parents. In addition, lines with Gn1a and/or WFP alleles were comparatively similar to the recurrent parents (RP) in most yield-related traits. This study demonstrates the success of utilizing yield QTLs and marker-assisted selection to develop and improve rice cultivars.