Jun Fang#*, Fantao Zhang#, Hongru Wang, Wei Wang, Fei Zhao, Zijuan Li, Changhui Sun, Faming Chen, Fan Xu, Shuoqi Chang, Liang Wu, Qingyun Bu, Pingrong Wang, Jiankun Xie, Fan Chen, Xuehui Huang, Yijing Zhang, Xinguang Zhu, Bin Han, Xiaojian Deng*，Chengcai Chu*
PNAS（IF=9.580 , TOP）, 2019，116(37):18717-18722
The contradiction between “high yielding” and “early maturing” hampers further improvement of annual rice yield. Here we report the positional cloning of a major maturity duration regulatory gene, Early flowering-completely dominant (Ef-cd), and demonstrate that natural variation in Ef-cd could be used to overcome the above contradictory. The Ef-cd locus gives rise to a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) antisense transcript overlapping the OsSOC1 gene. Ef-cd lncRNA expression positively correlates with the expression of OsSOC1 and H3K36me3 deposition. Field test comparisons of early maturing Ef-cd near-isogenic lines with their wild types as well as of the derivative early maturing hybrids with their wild-type hybrids conducted under different latitudes determined that the early maturing Ef-cd allele shortens maturity duration (ranging from 7 to 20 d) without a concomitant yield penalty. Ef-cd facilitates nitrogen utilization and also improves the photosynthesis rate. Analysis of 1,439 elite hybrid rice varieties revealed that the 16 homozygotes and 299 heterozygotes possessing Ef-cd matured significantly earlier. Therefore, Ef-cd could be a vital contributor of elite early maturing hybrid varieties in balancing grain yield with maturity duration.