Molecular Breeding

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Cytonuclear epistatic quantitative trait locus mapping for plant height and ear height in maize

  • Zaixiang Tang
  • Zefeng Yang
  • Zhiqiu Hu
  • Dan Zhang
  • Xin Lu
  • Bo Jia
  • Dexiang Deng
  • Chenwu Xu


Plant height (PH) and ear height (EH) are important traits in maize (Zea mays L.) breeding. Previous research has indicated that these traits are influenced by quantitative trait loci (QTL). However, previous studies attempting to identify the genetic bases of PH and EH have ignored the possibility that cytoplasmic effects and cytonuclear interactions may influence these traits. The objectives of this study were to identify the cytonuclear epistatic QTL and to evaluate the contributions of cytoplasm and QTL × cytoplasm interactions to phenotypic variation of PH and EH. A reciprocal mating design was conducted to generate F2 mapping populations comprising 120 F2 plants from the direct cross (JB × Y53) and 120 F2 plants from the reciprocal cross (Y53 × JB). F2:3 mapping populations were further generated with 91 direct F2:3 families and 120 reciprocal F2:3 families (ten plants per family). The PH and EH of the above F2 and F2:3 mapping populations were evaluated in the same field at the same experimental station in 2007 and 2008. A genetic linkage map with 154 microsatellite markers was constructed, which covered 1,735.0 cM of the maize genome with an average marker spacing of 11.3 cM. A joint-analysis method incorporating the cytonuclear interaction mapping approach was proposed and performed to detect cytonuclear interacting QTL affecting PH and EH. We identified six cytonuclear epistatic QTL affecting PH and five affecting EH. The average phenotypic variance explained by the genetic components of the QTL × cytoplasm interaction for each QTL was 18 % for PH and 9 % for EH. In addition, we observed cytoplasmic effects contributing substantially to phenotypic variance, reaching 9 and 40 % of the phenotypic contributions to PH and EH, respectively.


Quantitative trait loci Cytonuclear interaction Cytoplasm Reciprocal cross Maize 



We thank the editor and referees for their constructive comments on the manuscript. This work was supported by grants from the National Basic Research Program of China (2011CB100100), the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30971846, 31171187) and the Vital Project of Natural Science of Universities in Jiangsu Province (09KJA210002) (to C. Xu); and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31100882) (to Z. Tang). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Supplementary material

11032_2012_9762_MOESM1_ESM.doc (201 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 201 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zaixiang Tang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zefeng Yang
    • 1
  • Zhiqiu Hu
    • 3
  • Dan Zhang
    • 1
  • Xin Lu
    • 1
  • Bo Jia
    • 1
  • Dexiang Deng
    • 1
  • Chenwu Xu
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Jiangsu Provincial Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Physiology, Key Laboratory of Plant Functional Genomics of Ministry of EducationYangzhou UniversityYangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public HealthMedical College of Soochow UniversitySuzhouChina
  3. 3.Departments of Botany and Plant SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  4. 4.Department of Plant Genetics and BreedingYangzhou UniversityYangzhouChina

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