Contribution of seedling vigour and anoxia/hypoxia-responsive genes to submergence tolerance in Vietnamese lowland rice (<i>Oryza sativa</i> L.)

<p>A direct-seeded rice cultivation system has been widely adopted in Asian countries. Optimum germination and vigorous seedling growth under submergence are key traits for the practice of direct seeding. We studied the post-germination seedling vigour in Vietnamese lowland rice accessions based on three bio-parameters, shoot elongation growth under five-day submergence in water-filled test-tubes, seedling recovery rate five days after transferring submerged seedlings to pots with soil and seedling survival rate 21 days after sowing seeds in nursery beds and immediate incubation under submergence. A large diversity was found in seedling vigour thus estimated among the accessions. Significantly high correlations were observed among all three bio-parameters, verifying the contribution of seedling vigour to the manifestation of submergence tolerance at this critical stage of rice development. To examine the roles of anoxia/hypoxia-responsive genes, the expression of 17 candidate genes was studied by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and compared between selected vigorous and non-vigorous groups of accessions. Transcripts of all but two genes showed marked accumulation in submerged seedlings. No differences, however, were found between the two contrasting groups. The observed common and coordinate expression of anoxia/hypoxia-induced genes suggests that they might assume roles in attaining baseline tolerance against submergence stress. It was also suggested that some unknown genetic factors are operating in determining cultivar/genotype-specific levels of submergence tolerance as assessed by post-germination seedling vigour.</p>