Characterization of QTL for oil content in maize kernel

Xiaohong Yang, Hailin Ma, Pan Zhang, Jianbing Yan, Yuqiu Guo, Tongming Song, Jiansheng Li
TAG. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Theoretische und Angewandte Genetik 2012, 125 (6): 1169-79
Kernel oil content in maize is a complex quantitative trait. Phenotypic variation in kernel oil content can be dissected into its component traits such as oil metabolism and physical characteristics of the kernel, including embryo size and embryo-to-endosperm weight ratio (EEWR). To characterize quantitative trait loci (QTL) for kernel oil content, a recombinant inbred population derived from a cross between normal line B73 and high-oil line By804 was genotyped using 228 molecular markers and phenotyped for kernel oil content and its component traits [embryo oil content, embryo oil concentration, EEWR, embryo volume, embryo width, embryo length, and embryo width-to-length ratio (EWLR)]. A total of 58 QTL were identified for kernel oil content and its component traits in 26 genomic regions across all chromosomes. Eight main-effect QTL were identified for kernel oil content, embryo oil content, embryo oil concentration, EEWR, embryo weight, and EWLR, each accounting for over 10 % of the phenotypic variation in six genomic regions. Over 90 % of QTL identified for kernel oil content co-localized with QTL for component traits, validating their molecular contribution to kernel oil content. On chromosome 1, the QTL that had the largest effect on kernel oil content (qKO1-1) was associated with embryo width; on chromosome 9, the QTL for kernel oil content (qKO9) was related to EEWR (qEEWR9). Embryo oil concentration and embryo width were identified as the most important component traits controlling the second largest QTL for kernel oil content on chromosome 6 (qKO6) and a minor QTL for kernel oil content on chromosome 5 (qKO5-2), respectively. The dissection of kernel oil QTL will facilitate future cloning and/or functional validation of kernel oil content, and help to elucidate the genetic basis of kernel oil content in maize.

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