Genetic analysis of cold-tolerance of photosynthesis in maize

Y Fracheboud, C Jompuk, J M Ribaut, P Stamp, J Leipner
Plant Molecular Biology 2004, 56 (2): 241-53
The genetic basis of cold-tolerance was investigated by analyzing the quantitative trait loci (QTL) of an F2:3 population derived from a cross between two lines bred for contrasting cold-tolerance using chlorophyll fluorescence as a selection tool. Chlorophyll fluorescence parameters, CO2 exchange rate, leaf greenness, shoot dry matter and shoot nitrogen content were determined in plants grown under controlled conditions at 25/22 degrees C or 15/13 degrees C (day/night). The analysis revealed the presence of 18 and 19 QTLs (LOD > 3.5) significantly involved in the variation of nine target traits in plants grown at 25/22 degrees C and 15/13 degrees C, respectively. Only four QTLs were clearly identified in both temperatures regimes for the same traits, demonstrating that the genetic control of the performance of the photosynthetic apparatus differed, depending on the temperature regime. A major QTL for the cold-tolerance of photosynthesis was identified on chromosome 6. This QTL alone explained 37.4 of the phenotypic variance in the chronic photoinhibition at low temperature and was significantly involved in the expression of six other traits, including the rate of carbon fixation and shoot dry matter accumulation, indicating that the tolerance to photoinhibition is a key factor in the tolerance of maize to low growth temperature. An additional QTL on chromosomes 2 corresponded to a QTL identified previously in another population, suggesting some common genetic basis of the cold-tolerance of photosynthesis in different maize germplasms.

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