Dissection of the genetic architecture underlying the plant density response by mapping plant height-related traits in maize (Zea mays L.)

Lixia Ku, Liangkun Zhang, Zhiqiang Tian, Shulei Guo, Huihui Su, Zhenzhen Ren, Zhiyong Wang, Guohui Li, Xiaobo Wang, Yuguang Zhu, Jinlong Zhou, Yanhui Chen
Molecular Genetics and Genomics: MGG 2015, 290 (4): 1223-33
Plant height is one of the most heritable traits in maize (Zea mays L.). Understanding the genetic control of plant height is important for elucidating the molecular mechanisms that regulate maize development. To investigate the genetic basis of the plant height response to density in maize, we evaluated the effects of two different plant densities (60,000 and 120,000 plant/hm(2)) on three plant height-related traits (plant height, ear height, and ear height-to-plant height ratio) using four sets of recombinant inbred line populations. The phenotypes observed under the two-plant density treatments indicated that high plant density increased the phenotypic performance values of the three measured traits. Twenty-three quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were detected under the two-plant density treatments, and five QTL clusters were located. Nine QTLs were detected under the low plant density treatment, and seven QTLs were detected under the high plant density treatment. Our results suggested that plant height may be controlled mainly by a common set of genes that could be influenced by additional genetic mechanisms when the plants were grown under high plant density. Fine mapping for genetic regions of the stable QTLs across different plant density environments may provide additional information about their different responses to density. The results presented here provide useful information for further research and will help to reveal the molecular mechanisms related to plant height in response to density.

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