, Volume 111, Issue 2, pp 337-346
Date: 19 May 2005

Quantitative trait loci for cell-wall components in recombinant inbred lines of maize (Zea mays L.) I: stalk tissue

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Maize silage is a significant energy source for animal production operations, and the efficiency of the conversion of forage into animal mass is an important consideration when selecting cultivars for use as feed. Fiber and lignin are negatively correlated with digestibility of feed, so the development of forage with reduced levels of these cell-wall components (CWCs) is desirable. While variability for fiber and lignin is present in maize germplasm, traditional selection has focused on the yield of the ear rather than the forage quality of the whole plant, and little information is available concerning the genetics of fiber and lignin. The objectives of this study were to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for fiber and lignin in the maize stalk and compare them with QTLs from other populations. Stalk samples were harvested from 191 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) of B73 (an inbred line with low-to-intermediate levels of CWCs) × De811 (an inbred line with high levels of CWCs) at two locations in 1998 and one in 1999 and assayed for neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), and acid detergent lignin (ADL). The QTLs were detected on nine chromosomes, mostly clustered in concordance with the high genetic correlations between NDF and ADF. Adjustment of NDF for ADF and ADF for ADL revealed that most of the variability for CWCs in this population is in ADF. Many of the QTLs detected in this study have also been detected in other populations, and several are linked to candidate genes for cellulose or starch biosynthesis. The genetic information obtained in this study should be useful to breeding efforts aimed at improving the quality of maize silage.

Communicated by D.A. Hoisington