Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 132, Issue 10, pp 2721–2739 | Cite as

Genomics-assisted breeding for ear rot resistances and reduced mycotoxin contamination in maize: methods, advances and prospects

  • David Sewordor Gaikpa
  • Thomas MiedanerEmail author


Key message

Genetic mapping, genomic profiling and bioinformatic approaches were used to identify putative resistance genes for ear rots and low mycotoxin contamination in maize. Genomic selection seems to have good perspectives.


Maize is globally an indispensable crop for humans and livestock. About 30% of yield is lost by fungal diseases with Gibberella, Fusarium and Aspergillus ear rots (ERs) having a high economic impact in most maize-growing regions of the world. They reduce not only yield, but also contaminate grains with mycotoxins like deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, fumonisins and aflatoxins, respectively. These mycotoxins pose serious health problems to humans and animals. A number of studies have been conducted to dissect the genetic architecture of resistance to these three major ear rots over the past decade. The review concentrates on studies carried out to locate quantitative trait loci (QTL) and candidate genes (CG) on the maize genome as well as the application of genomic selection in maize for resistance against Fusarium graminearum, Fusarium verticillioides and Aspergillus flavus. QTL studies by linkage or genome-wide association mapping, omic technologies (genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics) and bioinformatics are the methods used in the current studies to propose resistance genes against ear rot pathogens. Though a number of QTL and CG are reported, only a few specific genes were found to directly confer ER resistance in maize. A combination of two or more gene identification methods would provide a more powerful and reliable tool. Genomic selection seems to be promising for ER resistance breeding, but there are only a limited number of studies in this area. A strategy that can accurately validate and predict genotypes with major effect QTL and CG for selection will be worthwhile for practical breeding against ERs and mycotoxin contamination in maize.


Author contribution statement

DSG made the concept and wrote the paper, and TM helped with writing the paper, edited and approved the final manuscript.


This research was conducted with the financial support of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD, Bonn, Germany) provided to David S. Gaikpa in the frame of the program “Ph.D. Scholarships for international students.”

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

122_2019_3412_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (12 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 11 kb)


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Plant Breeding InstituteUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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