Basal or partial resistance has been considered race-non-specific and broad-spectrum. Therefore, the identification of genes or quantitative trait loci (QTLs) conferring basal resistance and germplasm containing them is of significance in breeding crops with durable resistance.

In this study, we performed a bulked segregant analysis coupled with whole-genome sequencing (BSA-seq) to identify QTLs controlling basal resistance to blast disease in an F2 population derived from two rice varieties, 02428 and LiXinGeng (LXG), which differ significantly in basal resistance to rice blast. Four candidate QTLs, qBBR-4qBBR-7qBBR-8, and qBBR-11, were mapped on chromosomes 4, 7, 8, and 11, respectively. Allelic and genotypic association analyses identified a novel haplotype of the durable blast resistance gene pi21 carrying double deletions of 30 bp and 33 bp in 02428 (pi21-2428) as a candidate gene of qBBR-4. We further assessed haplotypes of Pi21 in 325 rice accessions, and identified 11 haplotypes among the accessions, of which eight were novel types. While the resistant pi21 gene was found only in japonica before, three Chinese indica varieties, ShuHui881, Yong4, and ZhengDa4Hao, were detected carrying the resistant pi21-2428 allele. The pi21-2428 allele and pi21-2428-containing rice germplasm, thus, provide valuable resources for breeding rice varieties, especially indica rice varieties, with durable resistance to blast disease. Our results also lay the foundation for further identification and functional characterization of the other three QTLs to better understand the molecular mechanisms underlying rice basal resistance to blast disease.