Molecular Genetics and Genomics

, Volume 291, Issue 1, pp 437–454 | Cite as

Genetic dissection of the maize kernel development process via conditional QTL mapping for three developing kernel-related traits in an immortalized F2 population

  • Zhanhui Zhang
  • Xiangyuan Wu
  • Chaonan Shi
  • Rongna Wang
  • Shengfei Li
  • Zhaohui Wang
  • Zonghua Liu
  • Yadong Xue
  • Guiliang TangEmail author
  • Jihua TangEmail author
Original Article


Kernel development is an important dynamic trait that determines the final grain yield in maize. To dissect the genetic basis of maize kernel development process, a conditional quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was conducted using an immortalized F2 (IF2) population comprising 243 single crosses at two locations over 2 years. Volume (KV) and density (KD) of dried developing kernels, together with kernel weight (KW) at different developmental stages, were used to describe dynamic changes during kernel development. Phenotypic analysis revealed that final KW and KD were determined at DAP22 and KV at DAP29. Unconditional QTL mapping for KW, KV and KD uncovered 97 QTLs at different kernel development stages, of which qKW6b, qKW7a, qKW7b, qKW10b, qKW10c, qKV10a, qKV10b and qKV7 were identified under multiple kernel developmental stages and environments. Among the 26 QTLs detected by conditional QTL mapping, conqKW7a, conqKV7a, conqKV10a, conqKD2, conqKD7 and conqKD8a were conserved between the two mapping methodologies. Furthermore, most of these QTLs were consistent with QTLs and genes for kernel development/grain filling reported in previous studies. These QTLs probably contain major genes associated with the kernel development process, and can be used to improve grain yield and quality through marker-assisted selection.


Maize (Zeamays L.) Kernel development Kernel density Kernel weight Kernel volume QTL mapping 



This work was supported by the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (2012AA10A305) and the Science and Technology Support Program of China (2011BAD35B01).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

438_2015_1121_MOESM1_ESM.tif (3.9 mb)
Fig. S1 Performance of the grain filling for Nongda108 and IF2 crosses belonging to different kernel weight classes. (A) Performance of the grain filling for Nongda108 during kernel development; (B-D) Performance of the grain filling for IF2 lines with large, medium and small kernel weight. These kernel samples all were showed with 100 kernels. The bar represents 1 cm (TIFF 3953 kb)
438_2015_1121_MOESM2_ESM.docx (35 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 35 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhanhui Zhang
    • 1
  • Xiangyuan Wu
    • 1
  • Chaonan Shi
    • 1
  • Rongna Wang
    • 1
  • Shengfei Li
    • 1
  • Zhaohui Wang
    • 1
  • Zonghua Liu
    • 1
  • Yadong Xue
    • 1
  • Guiliang Tang
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jihua Tang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Wheat and Maize Crop Science/Collaborative Innovation Center of Henan Grain CropsDepartment of Agronomy, Henan Agricultural UniversityZhengzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

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