, 182:409 | Cite as

Identification of genetic factors affecting plant density response through QTL mapping of yield component traits in maize (Zea mays L.)

  • Jinjie Guo
  • Zongliang Chen
  • Zhipeng Liu
  • Baobao Wang
  • Weibin Song
  • Wei Li
  • Jing Chen
  • Jingrui Dai
  • Jinsheng Lai


It is generally believed that grain yield per unit area of modern maize hybrids is related to their adaptability to high plant population density. In this study, the effects of two different plant densities (52,500 and 90,000 plants/hm2) on 12 traits associated with yield were evaluated using a set of 231 F2:3 families derived from two elite inbred lines, Zheng58 and Chang7-2. Evaluation of the phenotypes expressed under the two plant density conditions showed that high plant density condition could decrease the value of 10 measured yield component traits, while the final grain yield per hectare and the rate of kernel production were increased. Twenty-seven quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for 10 traits were detected in both high and low plant density conditions; among them, some QTLs were shown to locate in five clusters. Thirty QTLs were only detected under high plant density. These results suggest that some of the yield component traits perhaps were controlled by a common set of genes, and that kernel number per row, ear length, row number per ear, cob diameter, cob weight, and ear diameter may be influenced by additional genetic mechanisms when grown under high plant density. The QTLs identified in this study provide useful information for marker-assisted selection of varieties targeting increased plant density.


Maize (Zea mays L.) Yield components Plant density stress Quantitative trait loci Epistasis 



Quantitative trait loci


Simple sequence repeats


Ear weight


Grain weight per ear


100-kernel weight


Ear length


Ear diameter


Row number per ear


Kernel number per row


10-kernel thickness


Cob diameter


Cob weight


Rate of kernel production


Grain yield per hectare


Logarithm of odds


Low plant density


High plant density



This research was supported by the “973” program from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2009CB118400).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jinjie Guo
    • 1
  • Zongliang Chen
    • 1
  • Zhipeng Liu
    • 1
  • Baobao Wang
    • 1
  • Weibin Song
    • 1
  • Wei Li
    • 1
  • Jing Chen
    • 1
  • Jingrui Dai
    • 1
  • Jinsheng Lai
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology and National Maize Improvement CenterChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina

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