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A worldwide maize panel revealed new genetic variation for cold tolerance
Wednesday, 2021/04/21 | 07:05:51

Q. YiL. Álvarez-IglesiasR. A. MalvarM. C. Romay & Pedro Revilla

Theoretical and Applied Genetics April 2021; vol. 134:1083–1094

Key message

A large association panel of 836 maize inbreds revealed a broader genetic diversity of cold tolerance, as predominantly favorable QTL with small effects were identified, indicating that genomic selection is the most promising option for breeding maize for cold tolerance.


Maize (Zea mays L.) has limited cold tolerance, and breeding for cold tolerance is a noteworthy bottleneck for reaching the high potential of maize production in temperate areas. In this study, we evaluate a large panel of 836 maize inbred lines to detect genetic loci and candidate genes for cold tolerance at the germination and seedling stages. Genetic variation for cold tolerance was larger than in previous reports with moderately high heritability for most traits. We identified 187 significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were integrated into 159 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for emergence and traits related to early growth. Most of the QTL have small effects and are specific for each environment, with the majority found under control conditions. Favorable alleles are more frequent in 120 inbreds including all germplasm groups, but mainly from Minnesota and Spain. Therefore, there is a large, potentially novel, genetic variability in the germplasm groups represented by these inbred lines. Most of the candidate genes are involved in metabolic processes and intracellular membrane-bounded organelles. We expect that further evaluations of germplasm with broader genetic diversity could identify additional favorable alleles for cold tolerance. However, it is not likely that further studies will find favorable alleles with large effects for improving cold tolerance in maize.


See: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-020-03753-3

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