Improving yield and yield-related traits is the crucial goal in breeding programmes of cereals. Meta-QTL (MQTL) analysis discovers the most stable QTLs regardless of populations genetic background...

and field trial conditions and effectively narrows down the confidence interval (CI) for identification of candidate genes (CG) and markers development.




A comprehensive MQTL analysis was implemented on 1052 QTLs reported for yield (YLD), grain weight (GW), heading date (HD), plant height (PH) and tiller number (TN) in 122 rice populations evaluated under normal condition from 1996 to 2019. Consequently, these QTLs were confined into 114 MQTLs and the average CI was reduced up to 3.5 folds in compare to the mean CI of the original QTLs with an average of 4.85 cM CI in the resulted MQTLs. Among them, 27 MQTLs with at least five initial QTLs from independent studies were considered as the most stable QTLs over different field trials and genetic backgrounds. Furthermore, several known and novel CGs were detected in the high confident MQTLs intervals. The genomic distribution of MQTLs indicated the highest density at subtelomeric chromosomal regions. Using the advantage of synteny and comparative genomics analysis, 11 and 15 ortho-MQTLs were identified at co-linear regions between rice with barley and maize, respectively. In addition, comparing resulted MQTLs with GWAS studies led to identification of eighteen common significant chromosomal regions controlling the evaluated traits.




This comprehensive analysis defines a genome wide landscape on the most stable loci associated with reliable genetic markers and CGs for yield and yield-related traits in rice. Our findings showed that some of these information are transferable to other cereals that lead to improvement of their breeding programs.




Figure 1: (a) Number of initial QTLs and MQTLs for YLD, HD, PH, GW and TN traits under normal condition (b) the distribution of QTLs and MQTLs on the twelve chromosomes in rice.