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Fine mapping a major QTL for kernel number per row under different phosphorus regimes in maize (Zea mays L.)

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Phosphorus (P) is one of the essential macronutrients for plant growth and development. Grain yield is the primary trait of interest in maize breeding programs. Maize grain yield and yield-related traits are seriously affected by P deficiency. Kernel number per row (KN), as one of the major components of grain yield, has attracted the attention of more and more breeders. In our previous study, one major QTL (named qKN), controlling KN under different P regimes was mapped to the interval between molecular markers bnlg1360 and umc1645 on chromosome 10 using a F 2:3 population derived from the cross between maize inbreds 178 and 5,003 (107). In order to understand its genetic basis, we developed a population of near isogenic lines (NILs) and two P regimes were used to fine map and characterize qKN. The QTL qKN was finally localized in a region of ~480 kb. A single qKN allele of inbred 178 increased KN by 6.08–10.76 % in the 5,003 (107) background; qKN acted in a partially dominant manner. Our results will be instrumental for the future identification and isolation of the candidate gene underlying qKN. The tightly linked molecular markers that we developed for qKN will be useful in maize breeding programs for improving KN applying the marker-assisted selection.

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Kernel number per row


Near isogenic line




Quantitative trait loci


Recombinant inbred line


Single sequence repeat


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This research was supported by the China National Major Basic research Program (973:2009CB118405). The authors greatly acknowledge Professor Dai JingRui from National Maize Improvement Center of China, China Agriculture University, for critical review of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Zeli Wang.

Additional information

G. Zhang and X. Wang contributed equally to this work.

Communicated by T. Würschum.

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Zhang, G., Wang, X., Wang, B. et al. Fine mapping a major QTL for kernel number per row under different phosphorus regimes in maize (Zea mays L.). Theor Appl Genet 126, 1545–1553 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-013-2072-2

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  • Mapping Population
  • Fine Mapping
  • Recurrent Parent
  • Potassium Dihydrogen Phosphate
  • Kernel Number