Seed setting rate is one of the major components that determine rice (Oryza sativaL.) yield. Successful fertilization is necessary for normal seed setting.

However, little is known about the molecular mechanisms governing this process. In this study, we report a novel rice gene, LOW SEED SETTING RATE1 (LSSR1), which regulates the seed setting rate by facilitating rice fertilization. LSSR1 encodes a putative GH5 cellulase, which is highly conserved in plants. LSSR1 is predominantly expressed in anthers during the microsporogenesis stage, and its encoded protein contains a signal peptide at the N-terminal, which may be a secretory protein that stores in pollen grains and functions during rice fertilization. To explore the physiological function of LSSR1 in rice, loss-of-function mutants of LSSR1 were created through the CRISPR-Cas9 system, which showed a significant decrease in rice seed setting rate. However, the morphology of the vegetative and reproductive organs appears normal in lssr1 mutant lines. In addition, lssr1 pollen grains could be normally stained by I2-KI solution. Cytological results demonstrate that the blockage of fertilization mostly accounted for the low seed setting rate in lssr1 mutant lines, which was most likely caused by abnormal pollen grain germination, failed pollen tube penetration, and retarded pollen tube elongation. Together, our results suggest that LSSR1 plays an important role in rice fertilization, which in turn is vital for maintaining rice seed setting rate.





Figure 5: Targets and mutagenesis on rice LSSR1 using CRISPR/Cas9 system. a Structure of LSSR1 and the targets for knockout. b Effective targeted mutagenesis in the first exon. The underlined bases are PAMs, and the nucleotides in purple are flanking sequences of the targeted site.