QTL Controlling Masculinization of Ear Tips in a Maize (Zea mays L.) Intraspecific Cross.
ABSTRACT: Maize is unique among cereal grasses because of its monoecious flowering habit. Male flowers are normally restricted to the tassel that terminates the primary shoot, whereas female flowers occur as ears at the terminal nodes of lateral branches. We observed Ki14, a tropical maize inbred that produces an ear tipped by a staminate (male) spike under certain environmental conditions, such as long daylengths. Recombinant inbred lines derived from the cross between temperate line B97, which was never observed to produce a staminate ear tip, and Ki14 segregated for the trait under long daylengths. Some progeny lines that had even longer staminate tips than Ki14 were male fertile. We mapped three QTL controlling staminate ear tip using a two-part (binomial plus normal) model. A major QTL on chromosome 3 had a large effect on penetrance of the trait (whether a line would produce staminate ear tips or not) as well as its severity (the length of the staminate tip). This QTL seems to be linked to, but at a distinct position from, a previously mapped QTL controlling the proportion of staminate florets in ears in progeny from crosses between maize and teosinte. Two additional QTL affecting staminate ear tip severity overlapped with QTL controlling photoperiod response previously mapped in this population. Alleles conferring photoperiod sensitivity for delayed flowering at these QTL seem to enhance the production of staminate ear tips under long daylengths.
Project description:A reduction in number and an increase in size of inflorescences is a common aspect of plant domestication. When maize was domesticated from teosinte, the number and arrangement of ears changed dramatically. Teosinte has long lateral branches that bear multiple small ears at their nodes and tassels at their tips. Maize has much shorter lateral branches that are tipped by a single large ear with no additional ears at the branch nodes. To investigate the genetic basis of this difference in prolificacy (the number of ears on a plant), we performed a genome-wide QTL scan. A large effect QTL for prolificacy (prol1.1) was detected on the short arm of chromosome 1 in a location that has previously been shown to influence multiple domestication traits. We fine-mapped prol1.1 to a 2.7 kb "causative region" upstream of the grassy tillers1 (gt1) gene, which encodes a homeodomain leucine zipper transcription factor. Tissue in situ hybridizations reveal that the maize allele of prol1.1 is associated with up-regulation of gt1 expression in the nodal plexus. Given that maize does not initiate secondary ear buds, the expression of gt1 in the nodal plexus in maize may suppress their initiation. Population genetic analyses indicate positive selection on the maize allele of prol1.1, causing a partial sweep that fixed the maize allele throughout most of domesticated maize. This work shows how a subtle cis-regulatory change in tissue specific gene expression altered plant architecture in a way that improved the harvestability of maize.
Project description:<h4>Maize ear fasciation</h4>Knowledge of the genes affecting maize ear inflorescence may lead to better grain yield modeling. Maize ear fasciation, defined as abnormal flattened ears with high kernel row number, is a quantitative trait widely present in Portuguese maize landraces.<h4>Material and methods</h4>Using a segregating population derived from an ear fasciation contrasting cross (consisting of 149 F2:3 families) we established a two location field trial using a complete randomized block design. Correlations and heritabilities for several ear fasciation-related traits and yield were determined. Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) involved in the inheritance of those traits were identified and candidate genes for these QTL proposed.<h4>Results and discussion</h4>Ear fasciation broad-sense heritability was 0.73. Highly significant correlations were found between ear fasciation and some ear and cob diameters and row number traits. For the 23 yield and ear fasciation-related traits, 65 QTL were identified, out of which 11 were detected in both environments, while for the three principal components, five to six QTL were detected per environment. Detected QTL were distributed across 17 genomic regions and explained individually, 8.7% to 22.4% of the individual traits or principal components phenotypic variance. Several candidate genes for these QTL regions were proposed, such as bearded-ear1, branched silkless1, compact plant1, ramosa2, ramosa3, tasselseed4 and terminal ear1. However, many QTL mapped to regions without known candidate genes, indicating potential chromosomal regions not yet targeted for maize ear traits selection.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Portuguese maize germplasm represents a valuable source of genes or allelic variants for yield improvement and elucidation of the genetic basis of ear fasciation traits. Future studies should focus on fine mapping of the identified genomic regions with the aim of map-based cloning.
Project description:The genetic factors underlying changes in ear morphology, and particularly the inheritance of kernel row number (KRN), have been broadly investigated in diverse mapping populations in maize (Zea mays L.). In this study, we mapped a region on the long arm of chromosome 1 containing a QTL for KRN. This work was performed using a set of recombinant chromosome nearly isogenic lines (RCNILs) derived from a BC2S3 population produced using the inbred maize line W22 and teosinte (Zea mays ssp. parviglumis) as the parents. A set of 48 RCNILs was evaluated in the field during the summer of 2013 in order to perform the mapping. A QTL for KRN was found that explained approximately 51% of the phenotypic variance and had a 1.5-LOD confidence interval of 203 kb. Seven genes are described in this interval. One of these candidate genes may have been the target of domestication processes in maize and contributed to the shift from two kernel row ears in teosinte to a highly polystichous ear in maize.
Project description:The fungus Fusarium verticillioides can infect maize ears, causing Fusarium ear rot (FER) and contaminating the grain with fumonisins (FUM), which are harmful to humans and animals. Breeding for resistance to FER and FUM and post-harvest sorting of grain are two strategies for reducing FUM in the food system. Kernel and cob tissues have been previously associated with differential FER and FUM. Four recombinant inbred line families from the maize nested associated mapping population were grown and inoculated with F. verticillioides across four environments, and we evaluated the kernels for external and internal infection severity as well as FUM contamination. We also employed publicly available phenotypes on innate ear morphology to explore genetic relationships between ear architecture and resistance to FER and FUM. The four families revealed wide variation in external symptomatology at the phenotypic level. Kernel bulk density under inoculation was an accurate indicator of FUM levels. Genotypes with lower kernel density-under both inoculated and uninoculated conditions-and larger cobs were more susceptible to infection and FUM contamination. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) intervals could be classified as putatively resistance-specific and putatively shared for ear and resistance traits. Both types of QTL mapped in this study had substantial overlap with previously reported loci for resistance to FER and FUM. Ear morphology may be a component of resistance to F. verticillioides infection and FUM accumulation.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Collections of nearly isogenic lines where each line carries a delimited portion of a donor source genome into a common recipient genetic background are known as introgression libraries and have already shown to be instrumental for the dissection of quantitative traits. By means of marker-assisted backcrossing, we have produced an introgression library using the extremely early-flowering maize (Zea mays L.) variety Gaspé Flint and the elite line B73 as donor and recipient genotypes, respectively, and utilized this collection to investigate the genetic basis of flowering time and related traits of adaptive and agronomic importance in maize. RESULTS: The collection includes 75 lines with an average Gaspé Flint introgression length of 43.1 cM. The collection was evaluated for flowering time, internode length, number of ears, number of nodes (phytomeres), number of nodes above the ear, number and proportion of nodes below the ear and plant height. Five QTLs for flowering time were mapped, all corresponding to major QTLs for number of nodes. Three additional QTLs for number of nodes were mapped. Besides flowering time, the QTLs for number of nodes drove phenotypic variation for plant height and number of nodes below and above the top ear, but not for internode length. A number of apparently Mendelian-inherited phenotypes were also observed. CONCLUSIONS: While the inheritance of flowering time was dominated by the well-known QTL Vgt1, a number of other important flowering time QTLs were identified and, thanks to the type of plant material here utilized, immediately isogenized and made available for fine mapping. At each flowering time QTL, early flowering correlated with fewer vegetative phytomeres, indicating the latter as a key developmental strategy to adapt the maize crop from the original tropical environment to the northern border of the temperate zone (southern Canada), where Gaspé Flint was originally cultivated. Because of the trait differences between the two parental genotypes, this collection will serve as a permanent source of nearly isogenic materials for multiple studies of QTL analysis and cloning.
Project description:Maize originated as a tropical plant that required short days to transition from vegetative to reproductive development. ZmCCT10 [CO, CONSTANS, CO-LIKE and TIMING OF CAB1 (CCT) transcription factor family] is a regulator of photoperiod response and was identified as a major QTL controlling photoperiod sensitivity in maize. We modulated expression of ZmCCT10 in transgenic maize using two constitutive promoters with different expression levels. Transgenic plants over expressing ZmCCT10 with either promoter were delayed in their transition from vegetative to reproductive development but were not affected in their switch from juvenile-to-adult vegetative growth. Strikingly, transgenic plants containing the stronger expressing construct had a prolonged period of vegetative growth accompanied with dramatic modifications to plant architecture that impacted both vegetative and reproductive traits. These plants did not produce ears, but tassels were heavily branched. In more than half of the transgenic plants, tassels were converted into a branched leafy structure resembling phyllody, often composed of vegetative plantlets. Analysis of expression modules controlling the floral transition and meristem identity linked these networks to photoperiod dependent regulation, whereas phase change modules appeared to be photoperiod independent. Results from this study clarified the influence of the photoperiod pathway on vegetative and reproductive development and allowed for the fine-tuning of the maize flowering time model.
Project description:Heterosis refers to the phenomenon in which hybrid progeny show superior performance relative to their parents. Early maize ear development shows strong heterosis in ear architecture traits and greatly affects grain yield. To explore the underlying molecular mechanisms, genome-wide proteomics of immature ears of maize hybrid ZD909 and its parents were analyzed using tandem mass tag (TMT) technology. A total of 9,713 proteins were identified in all three genotypes. Among them, 3,752 (38.6%) proteins were differentially expressed between ZD909 and its parents. Multiple modes of protein action were discovered in the hybrid, while dominance expression patterns accounted for 63.6% of the total differentially expressed proteins (DEPs). Protein pathway enrichment analysis revealed that high parent dominance proteins mainly participated in carbon metabolism and nitrogen assimilation processes. Our results suggested that the dominant expression of favorable alleles related to C/N metabolism in the hybrid may be essential for ZD909 ear growth and heterosis formation. Integrated analysis of proteomic and quantitative trait locus (QTL) data further support our DEP identification and provide useful information for the discovery of genes associated with ear development. Our study provides comprehensive insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying heterosis in immature maize ears from a proteomic perspective.
Project description:In this study we used the maize (Zea mays) inflorescence to investigate gene networks that modulate determinacy, specifically the decision to allow branch growth. We characterized developmental transitions by associating spatiotemporal expression profiles with morphological changes resulting from genetic perturbations that disrupt steps in a pathway controlling branching. These are the RNA-seq datasets used in this study. We profiled changes in gene expression during normal maize ear and tassel development and in developing maize ear primordia upon genetic perturbation of the RAMOSA branching pathway. For the wild-type ear and tassel developmental series, greenhouse-grown B73 inbred plants were used. 10mm ears were collected and sectioned as follows from tip to base along the developmental gradient: tip 1mm sampled (tip; Inflorescence Meristem/Spikelet Pair Meristem), next 1mm discarded, next 1mm sampled (mid; Spikelet Meristem), next 2mm discarded, next 2 mm sampled (base; Floral Meristem), and immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen. Sections from ~30 sampled ears were pooled for each of 2 biological replicates to represent tip, mid, and base stages. Tassels were hand-dissected, measured, separated by stage: 1-2mm (stg1), 3-4mm (stg2), and 5-7mm (stg3), and immediately frozen in liquid N. For each stage, ~20-30 tassels were pooled for each of 2 biological replicates. For ramosa mutant series, segregating families (1:1) of ra1-R, ra2-R, and ra3-fea1 mutant alleles, all introgressed at least 6 times into the B73 inbred background, were grown at CSHL Uplands Farm. Field-grown plants were genotyped and collected 6-7 weeks after germination (V7-V8 stage). First and second ear primordia were immediately hand-dissected, measured, and frozen in liquid nitrogen. For ra1, ra2 and ra3 mutants and wild-type controls, ears were pooled into two size classes: 1) 1mm class included a range of 0.7-1.5mm sized ears and nine ears were pooled for each of 2 biological replicates; 2) 2mm class included a range of 1.8-2.5mm sized ears and six ears were pooled for each of three biological replicates. Wild-type samples were proportional mixtures of heterozygote siblings segregating in ra1, ra2, and ra3 populations. Variability factors (e.g. ear size within class, ear rank on the plant, and time of collection) were distributed evenly across pooled samples.
Project description:Crop improvement programs focus on characteristics that are important for plant productivity. Typically genes underlying these traits are identified and stacked to create improved cultivars. Hence, identification of valuable traits for plant productivity is critical for plant improvement. Here we describe an important characteristic for maize productivity. Despite the fact mature maize ears are typically covered with kernels, we find that only a fraction of ovaries give rise to mature kernels. Non-developed ovaries degenerate while neighboring fertilized ovaries produce kernels that fill the ear. Abortion occurs throughout the ear, not just at the tip. We show that the fraction of aborted ovaries/kernels is genetically controlled and varies widely among maize lines, and low abortion genotypes are rare. Reducing or eliminating ovary abortion could substantially increase yield, making this characteristic a new target for selection in maize improvement programs.
Project description:The leaf number above the primary ear (LA) is a major contributing factor to plant architecture in maize. The yield of leafy maize, which has extra LA compared to normal maize, is higher than normal maize in some regions. One major concern is that increasing LA may be accompanied by increased plant height and/or flowering time. Using an F2:3 population comprising 192 families derived from a leafy maize line and a normal maize line, an association population comprising 437 inbred maize lines, and a pair of near-isogenic maize lines, we mapped the quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with LA and assessed its genetic relationship with flowering time and plant height. Ten QTL with an additive and dominant effect, 18 pairs of interacting QTL in the F2:3 population and seventeen significant SNPs in the association population were detected for LA. Two major QTL, qLA3-4 and qLA7-1, were repeatedly detected and explained a large proportion of the phenotypic variation. The qLA3-4 was centered on lfy1, which is a dominant gene underlying extra leaves above the ear in leafy maize. Four LA QTL were found to overlap with flowering time and/or plant height, which suggested that these QTL might have a pleiotropic effect. The pleiotropy of the lfy1 locus on LA, flowering time and plant height were validated by near-isogenic line analysis. These results enhance our understanding of the genetic architecture affecting maize LA and the development of maize hybrids with increased LA.