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Identification and validation of seed dormancy loci and candidate genes and construction of regulatory networks by WGCNA in maize introgression lines
Thursday, 2023/12/07 | 07:41:39

Xiaolin MaLiqing FengAnyan TaoTinashe ZendaYuan HeDaxiao ZhangHuijun Duan & Yongsheng Tao

Theoretical and Applied Genetics December 2023; vol. 136, Article number: 259

Key message

Seventeen PHS-QTLs and candidate genes were obtained, including eleven major loci, three under multiple environments and two with co-localization by the other mapping methods; The functions of three candidate genes were validated using mutants; nine target proteins and five networks were filtered by joint analysis of GWAS and WGCNA.


Figure: Maize seed dormancy – Germination of maize seed (stock image B787/0106)


Seed dormancy (SD) and pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) affect yield, as well as grain and hybrid quality in seed production. Therefore, identification of genetic and regulatory pathways underlying PHS and SD is key to gene function analysis, allelic variation mining and genetic improvement. In this study, 78,360 SNPs by SLAF-seq of 230 maize chromosome segment introgression lines (ILs), PHS under five environments were used to conduct GWAS (genome wide association study) (a threshold of 1/n), and seventeen unreported PHS QTLs were obtained, including eleven QTLs with PVE > 10% and three QTLs under multiple environments. Two QTL loci were co-located between the other two genetic mapping methods. Using differential gene expression analyses at two stages of grain development, gene functional analysis of Arabidopsis mutants, and gene functional analysis in the QTL region, seventeen PHS QTL-linked candidate genes were identified, and their five molecular regulatory networks constructed. Based on the Arabidopsis T-DNA mutations, three candidate genes were shown to regulate for SD and PHS. Meanwhile, using RNA-seq of grain development, the weighted correlation network analysis (WGCNA) was performed, deducing five regulatory pathways and target genes that regulate PHS and SD. Based on the conjoint analysis of GWAS and WGCNA, four pathways, nine target proteins and target genes were revealed, most of which regulate cell wall metabolism, cell proliferation and seed dehydration tolerance. This has important theoretical and practical significance for elucidating the genetic basis of maize PHS and SD, as well as mining of genetic resources and genetic improvement of traits.


See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-023-04495-8


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