Genetic analysis and major quantitative trait locus mapping of leaf widths at different positions in multiple populations

Shulei Guo, Lixia Ku, Jianshuang Qi, Zhiqiang Tian, Tuo Han, Liangkun Zhang, Huihui Su, Zhenzhen Ren, Yanhui Chen
PloS One 2015, 10 (3): e0119095

BACKGROUND: Leaf width is an important agricultural trait in maize. Leaf development is dependent on cell proliferation and expansion, and these processes exhibit polarity with respect to the longitudinal and transverse axes of the leaf. However, the molecular mechanism of the genetic control of seed vigor remains unknown in maize, and a better understanding of this mechanism is required.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: To reveal the genetic architecture of leaf width, a comprehensive evaluation using four RIL populations was performed, followed by a meta-analysis. Forty-six QTLs associated with the widths of leaves at different positions above the uppermost ear were detected in the four RIL populations in three environments. The individual effects of the QTLs ranged from 4.33% to 18.01% of the observed phenotypic variation, with 14 QTLs showing effects of over 10%. We identified three common QTLs associated with leaf width at all of the examined positions, in addition to one common QTL associated with leaf width at three of the positions and six common QTLs associated with leaf width at two of the positions. The results indicate that leaf width at different leaf positions may be affected by one QTL or several of the same QTLs. Such traits may also be regulated by many different QTLs. Thirty-one of the forty-six initial QTLs were integrated into eight mQTLs through a meta-analysis, and 10 of the 14 initial QTLs presenting an R2>10% were integrated into six mQTLs.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: mQTL1-2, mQTL3-1, mQTL7, and mQTL8 were composed of the initial QTLs showing an R2>10% and included four to six of the initial QTLs that were associated with two to four positions in a single population. Therefore, these four chromosome regions may be hot spots for important QTLs for these traits. Thus, they warrant further studies and may be useful for marker-assisted breeding.

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