Identification of quantitative trait loci for kernel-related traits and the heterosis for these traits in maize (Zea mays L.)
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Heterosis has been extensively applied for many traits during maize breeding, but there has been relatively little attention paid to the heterosis for kernel size. In this study, we evaluated a population of 301 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between 08-641 and YE478, as well as 298 hybrids from an immortalized F2 (IF2) population to detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for six kernel-related traits and the mid-parent heterosis (MPH) for these traits. A total of 100 QTLs, six pairs of loci with epistatic interactions, and five significant QTL × environment interactions were identified in both mapping populations. Seven QTLs accounted for over 10% of the phenotypic variation. Only four QTLs affected both the trait means and the MPH, suggesting the genetic mechanisms for kernel-related traits and the heterosis for kernel size are not completely independent. Moreover, more than half of the QTLs for each trait in the IF2 population exhibited dominance, implying that dominance is more important than other genetic effects for the heterosis for kernel-related traits. Additionally, 20 QTL clusters comprising 46 QTLs were detected across ten chromosomes. Specific chromosomal regions (bins 2.03, 6.04–6.05, and 9.01–9.02) exhibited pleiotropy and congruency across diverse heterotic patterns in previous studies. These results may provide additional insights into the genetic basis for the MPH for kernel-related traits.
KeywordsHeterosis Kernel-related traits Immortalized F2 (IF2) RIL QTL Dominance
We thank all students for participating in the fieldwork. We thank Liwen Bianji, Edanz Editing China (www.liwenbianji.cn/ac) for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript.
This study was funded by the Applied Basic Research Programs of Science and Technology Department of Sichuan Province (2016JY0065).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research involving human participants and/or animals
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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