GA-Responsive Dwarfing Gene Rht12 Affects the Developmental and Agronomic Traits in Common Bread Wheat
Opportunities exist for replacing reduced height (Rht) genes Rht-B1b and Rht-D1b with alternative dwarfing genes, such as the gibberellin-responsive gene Rht12, for bread wheat improvement. However, a comprehensive understanding of the effects and mode of action of Rht12 is lacking. In the present study, the effects of Rht12 were characterized by analyzing its effects on seeding vigour, seedling roots, leaf and stem morphology, spike development and carbohydrate assimilation and distribution. This was carried out in the four genotypes of F2:3 lines derived from a cross between Ningchun45 and Karcagi (12) in two experiments of autumn sowing and spring sowing. Rht12 significantly decreased stem length (43%∼48% for peduncle) and leaf length (25%∼30% for flag leaf) while the thickness of the internode walls and width of the leaves were increased. Though the final plant stature was shortened (40%) by Rht12, the seedling vigour, especially coleoptile length and root traits at the seedling stage, were not affected adversely. Rht12 elongated the duration of the spike development phase, improved the proportion of spike dry weight at anthesis and significantly increased floret fertility (14%) in the autumn sowing experiment. However, Rht12 delayed anthesis date by around 5 days and even the dominant Vrn-B1 allele could not compensate this negative effect. Additionally, grain size was reduced with the ability to support spike development after anthesis decreased in Rht12 lines. Finally, grain yield was similar between the dwarf and tall lines in the autumn sowing experiment. Thus, Rht12 could substantially reduce plant height without altering seeding vigour and significantly increase spikelet fertility in the favourable autumn sowing environment. The successful utilization of Rht12 in breeding programs will require careful selection since it might delay ear emergence. Nonetheless, the potential exists for wheat improvement by using Rht12.