The mapping of sterile genes is an essential issue, which should be solved for the investigation of sterility mechanism in wide hybridization of plants. However, the methods formerly developed cannot address the problem of mapping sterile loci with epistasis. In this study, we developed a new method to map sterile genes with epistasis in wide hybridizations of plants using a backcross design. The maximum likelihood method was used to estimate the parameters of recombination fractions and effects of sterile genes, and the convergent results of these parameters were obtained using the expectation maximization (EM) algorithm. The application and efficiency of this method were tested and demonstrated by a set of simulated data and real data analysis. Results from the simulation experiments showed that the method works well for simultaneously estimating the positions and effects of sterile genes, as well as the epistasis between sterile genes. A real data set of a backcross (BC) population from an interspecific hybrid between cultivated rice, Oryza sativa, and its wild African relative, Oryza longistaminata, was analyzed using the new method. Five sterile genes were detected on the chromosomes of 1, 3, 6, 8 and 10, and significant epistatic effects were found among the four pairs of sterile genes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • epistasis
  • maximum likelihood
  • segregation distortion
  • sterile gene
  • wide hybridization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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