Biology Faculty Articles

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Scientific Reports


Heat, Plant sciences, Plant stress responses





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Elevated nighttime temperatures resulting from climate change significantly impact the rice crop worldwide. The rice (Oryza sativa L.) plant is highly sensitive to high nighttime temperature (HNT) during grain-flling (reproductive stage). HNT stress negatively affects grain quality traits and has a major impact on the value of the harvested rice crop. In addition, along with grain dimensions determining rice grain market classes, the grain appearance and quality traits determine the rice grain market value. During the last few years, there has been a major concern for rice growers and the rice industry over the prevalence of rice grains opacity and the reduction of grain dimensions affected by HNT stress. Hence, the improvement of heat-stress tolerance to maintain grain quality of the rice crop under HNT stress will bolster future rice value in the market. In this study, 185 F12-recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from two US rice cultivars, Cypress (HNT-tolerant) and LaGrue (HNT-sensitive) were screened for the grain quality traits grain length (GL), grain width (GW), and percent chalkiness (%chalk) under control and HNT stress conditions and evaluated to identify the genomic regions associated with the grain quality traits. In total, there were 15 QTLs identified; 6 QTLs represented under control condition explaining 3.33% to 8.27% of the phenotypic variation, with additive effects ranging from− 0.99 to 0.0267 on six chromosomes and 9 QTLs represented under HNT stress elucidating 6.39 to 51.53% of the phenotypic variation, with additive effects ranging from− 8.8 to 0.028 on nine chromosomes for GL, GW, and % chalk. These 15 QTLs were further characterized and scanned for natural genetic variation in a japonica diversity panel (JDP) to identify candidate genes for GL, GW, and %chalk. We found 6160 high impact single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) characterized as such depending on their type, region, functional class, position, and proximity to the gene and/or gene features, and 149 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the 51 Mbp genomic region comprising of the 15 QTLs. Out of which, 11 potential candidate genes showed high impact SNP associations. Therefore, the analysis of the mapped QTLs and their genetic dissection in the US grown Japonica rice genotypes at genomic and transcriptomic levels provide deep insights into genetic variation beneficial to rice breeders and geneticists for understanding the mechanisms related to grain quality under heat stress in rice.


Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2023.

Additional Comments

Tis study was supported by the National Science Foundation NSF-EPSCoR RII Track-2 award (#1826836): “Systems genetics studies on rice genomes for analysis of grain yield and quality under heat stress”. We also acknowledge the funding from the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board for supporting and promoting an early work (2014–2019) and initiating this study.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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