2013 Volume 63 Issue 4 Pages 359-366
Products of interspecific crosses often show abnormal phenotypes such as sterility, weakness and inviability. These phenomena play an important role in speciation as mechanisms of postzygotic reproductive isolation (RI). During the past two decades, genetics studies in rice have characterized a number of gene loci responsible for postzygotic RI. I have identified 10 loci including three sets of epistatic networks in a single inter-subspecific cross (Oryza sativa ssp. indica × japonica). These results suggest that RI genes cause developmental dysfunction of vegetative and/or reproductive organs through a variety of molecular pathways. The latest molecular studies demonstrated that hybrid incompatibility is mainly due to deleterious interactions caused by species-specific mutations of two or more genes, mediated by proteins acting within the same molecular pathway. Because genetic interactions provide a perspective on gene function, epistatic networks are a key to the understanding of the molecular basis of postzygotic RI. In this review, I focus on recent progress in postzygotic RI studies in rice and discuss the evolutionary significance as well as implications for improving rice productivity.