Perennial ryegrass is an important pasture grass in temperate regions. As a forage biomass-generating species, plant architecture-related characters provide key objectives for breeding improvement.
In silicocomparative genomics analysis predicted colocation between a previously identified QTL for plant type (erect versus prostrate growth) and the ortholocus of the rice OsABCG5 gene ( LpABCG5), as well as related QTLs in other Poaceae species. Sequencing of an LpABCG5-containing BAC clone identified presence of a paralogue ( LpABCG6) in the vicinity of the LpABCG5 locus, in addition to three other gene-like sequences. Comparative genomics involving five other 5 grass species (rice, Brachypodium, sorghum, maize, and foxtail millet) revealed conserved microsynteny in the ABCG5 ortholocus-flanking region. Gene expression profiling and phylogenetic analysis suggested that the two paralogues are functionally distinct. Fourteen additional ABCG5 gene family members, which may interact with the LpABCG5 gene, were identified through sequencing of transcriptomes from perennial ryegrass leaf, anther, and pistils. A larger-scale phylogenetic analysis of the ABCG gene family suggested conservation between major branches of the Poaceae family. This study identified the LpABCG5 gene as a candidate for the plant type determinant, suggesting that manipulation of gene expression may provide valuable phenotypes for perennial ryegrass breeding.