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Hybrid performance evaluation and genome-wide association analysis of root system architecture in a maize association population
Saturday, 2023/09/16 | 06:25:08

Zhigang LiuPengcheng LiWei RenZhe ChenToluwase OlukayodeGuohua MiLixing YuanFanjun Chen & Qingchun Pan

Theoretical and Applied Genetics September 2023; vol. 136, Article number: 194

Key Message

The genetic architecture of RSA traits was dissected by GWAS and coexpression networks analysis in a maize association population.


Root system architecture (RSA) is a crucial determinant of water and nutrient uptake efficiency in crops. However, the maize genetic architecture of RSA is still poorly understood due to the challenges in quantifying root traits and the lack of dense molecular markers. Here, an association mapping panel including 356 inbred lines were crossed with a common tester, Zheng58, and the test crosses were phenotyped for 12 RSA traits in three locations. We observed a 1.3 ~ sixfold phenotypic variation for measured RSA in the association panel. The association panel consisted of four subpopulations, non-stiff stalk (NSS) lines, stiff stalk (SS), tropical/subtropical (TST), and mixed. Zheng58 × TST has a 2.1% higher crown root number (CRN) and 8.6% less brace root number (BRN) than Zheng58 × NSS and Zheng58 × SS, respectively. Using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) with 1.25 million SNPs and correction for population structure, 191 significant SNPs were identified for root traits. Ninety (47%) of the significant SNPs showed positive allelic effects, and 101 (53%) showed negative effects. Each locus could explain 0.39% to 11.8% of phenotypic variation. By integrating GWAS results and comparing coexpression networks, 26 high-priority candidate genes were identified. Gene GRMZM2G377215, which belongs to the COBRA-like gene family, affected root growth and development. Gene GRMZM2G468657 encodes the aspartic proteinase nepenthesin-1, related to root development and N-deficient response. Collectively, our research provides progress in the genetic dissection of root system architecture. These findings present the further possibility for the genetic improvement of root traits in maize.


See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-023-04442-7

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