A recently established rice breeding program in low latitudes aims to develop varieties with extremely long basic vegetative growth (BVG) periods and weak photoperiod sensitivities. The Taiwanese japonica variety Taichung 65 (T65) harbors a recessive allele ef1 at the Ef1 (Early flowering 1) locus, thereby exhibiting an extremely long BVG period. The previous reported functional allele Ehd1 (Early heading date 1), located on chromosome 10, encodes a B-type response regulator, thereby shortening the BVG period, whereas its nonfunctional allele ehd1 greatly prolongs the BVG period. A conventional analysis using F2 and F3 populations and a subsequent CAPS analysis based on the amino acid sequences of Ehd1 and ehd1 showed that Ef1 and Ehd1 were at the same locus. The CAPS analysis also indicated that the Taiwanese japonica varieties with extremely long BVG periods all harbor ef1, but that ef1 does not exist among indica and japonica varieties in the low latitudes. Since ef1 has not been found in any japonica varieties outside Taiwan, this allele might have originated in Taiwan. Sequence analysis revealed that the mutant allele ef1-h, which prolongs the BVG period even more than ef1 does, harbors an mPing insertion in exon 2, which causes the complete loss of gene function. Our results indicate that both ef1 or ef1-h alleles can be used as new gene sources in developing rice varieties with extremely long BVG periods for low latitudes.
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