Diverse panicle architecture results from various combinations of Prl5/GA20ox4 and Pbl6/APO1 alleles.
Panicle architecture directly affects crop productivity and is a key target of high-yield rice breeding. Panicle length strongly affects panicle architecture, but the underlying regulatory mechanisms are largely unknown. Here, we show that two quantitative trait loci (QTLs), PANICLE RACHIS LENGTH5 (Prl5) and PRIMARY BRANCH LENGTH6 (Pbl6), independently regulate panicle length in rice. Prl5 encodes a gibberellin biosynthesis enzyme, OsGA20ox4. The expression of Prl5 was higher in young panicles resulting in panicle rachis elongation. Pbl6 is identical to ABERRANT PANICLE ORGANIZATION 1 (APO1), encoding an F-box-containing protein. We found a novel function that higher expression of Pbl6 is responsible for primary branch elongation. RNA-seq analysis revealed that these two genes independently regulate panicle length at the level of gene expression. QTL pyramiding of both genes increased panicle length and productivity. By combining these two genes in various combinations, we designed numerous panicle architecture without trade-off relationship.