The distribution pattern of endopolyploidy in maize

  • Silu Li
  • Linsan Liu
  • Ting Li
  • Tianru Lan
  • Yahui Wang
  • Zhengquan Zhang
  • Jianchao Liu
  • Shutu Xu
  • Xinghua Zhang
  • Jianchu Zhu
  • Jiquan Xue
  • Dongwei GuoEmail author
Original Article


Key message

We discovered that endopolyploidization is common in various organs and tissues of maize at different development stages. Endopolyploidy is not specific in maize germplasm populations.


Endopolyploidy is caused by DNA endoreplication, a special type of mitosis with normal DNA synthesis and a lack of cell division; it is a common phenomenon and plays an important role in plant development. To systematically study the distribution pattern of endopolyploidy in maize, flow cytometry was used to determine the ploidy by measuring the cycle (C) value in various organs at different developmental stages, in embryos and endosperm during grain development, in roots under stress conditions, and in the roots of 119 inbred lines from two heterotic groups, Shaan A and Shaan B. Endopolyploidy was observed in most organs at various developmental stages except in expanded leaves and filaments. The endosperm showed the highest C value among all organs. During tissue development, the ploidy increased in all organs except the leaves. In addition, the endopolyploidization of the roots was significantly affected by drought stress. Multiple comparisons of the C values of seven subgroups revealed that the distribution of endopolyploidization was not correlated with the population structure. A correlation analysis at the seedling stage showed a positive relationship between the C value and both the length of the whole plant and the length of main root. A genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified a total of 9 significant SNPs associated with endopolyploidy (C value) in maize, and 8 candidate genes that participate in cell cycle regulation and DNA replication were uncovered in 119 maize inbred lines.



This work was supported by the Shaanxi Province Comprehensive Project (Grant Number: 2015KTZDNY01-01-01) and the Yangling District Technical Plan Project (Grant Number: 2014NY-01).

Authors’ contribution statement

DWG conceived this research. SLL measured the endopolyploidy data, performed the data analyses and interpretation and drafted the manuscript. LSL edited the manuscript and assisted in the data interpretation. TL and STX performed the DNA extractions and SNP sequencing. TRL and JCL conducted the genotypic assays. YHW measured the agronomic traits in the field. JQX provided all of the plant germplasms. ZQZ, XHZ and JCZ performed the cultivation of the greenhouse and field materials. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

We state that all experiments in the study comply with the ethical standards in China.

Supplementary material

122_2019_3294_MOESM1_ESM.tif (5.3 mb)
Fig. S1 The flow cytometry histograms of the tested organs of maize inbred line B73 at seedling stage (V2–V5 stage) (TIFF 5401 kb)
122_2019_3294_MOESM2_ESM.tif (11.4 mb)
Fig. S2 The flow cytometry histograms of the tested organs of maize inbred line B73 from elongation stage to trumpet stage (V6–V12 stage) (TIFF 11641 kb)
122_2019_3294_MOESM3_ESM.tif (17.8 mb)
Fig. S3 The flow cytometry histograms of the tested organs of maize inbred line B73 during reproductive stage (VT stage-7 DAP) (TIFF 18238 kb)
122_2019_3294_MOESM4_ESM.tif (8 mb)
Fig. S4 The flow cytometry histograms of the B73 grain during pollination (TIFF 8212 kb)
122_2019_3294_MOESM5_ESM.tif (1.4 mb)
Fig. S5 Hierarchical clustering of the cycle value. Group I: low-level cycle value (L); Group II: medium-level cycle value (M); Group III: high-level cycle value (H) (TIFF 1480 kb)
122_2019_3294_MOESM6_ESM.docx (82 kb)
Supplementary material 6 (DOCX 81 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Silu Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Linsan Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ting Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tianru Lan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yahui Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhengquan Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianchao Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shutu Xu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xinghua Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jianchu Zhu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiquan Xue
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dongwei Guo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.The Key Laboratory of Biology and Genetics Improvement of Maize in Arid Area of Northwest Region, Ministry of Agriculture, College of AgronomyNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina
  2. 2.Maize Engineering Technology Research Centre of Shaanxi ProvinceYanglingChina

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