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Identification and characterisation of candidate genes involved in chilling responses in maize (Zea mays L.)

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Chilling stress can have severe impacts on the growth, development and productivity of maize worldwide. In the present study, cDNA amplified fragment length polymorphism (cDNA-AFLP) analysis was used to evaluate gene expression in maize during chilling treatments (6°C) over four time periods (0, 2, 6 and 12 h). A total of 441 transcript-derived fragments (TDFs) induced by low-temperature treatment were detected. Based on the sequence analysis, the 58 TDFs of known functions were involved in metabolism, photosynthesis, signal transduction and defence responses etc., suggesting that maize undergoes a complex adaptive process in response to low temperatures. Three full-length cDNA, encoding MAPKKK (mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase), CLC-D (chloride channel D) and RLK (receptor-like protein kinases) homologues, were isolated from maize through in silico cloning and named as ZmMAPKKK, ZmCLC-D and ZmRLK, respectively. Finally, the expression patterns of the three genes showed a significant increase of differential expression after chilling stress as analysed by semi-quantitative RT-PCR and real-time qRT-PCR. This study provides important clues to understanding low-temperature regulation mechanisms in maize and the three candidate genes involved in chilling responses need further research to determine their usefulness in breeding new resistance cultivars.

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This research was supported by the National Key Technology R&D Program of China (2006BAD13B03).

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Correspondence to Yaping Yuan.

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Yang, G., Zou, H., Wu, Y. et al. Identification and characterisation of candidate genes involved in chilling responses in maize (Zea mays L.). Plant Cell Tiss Organ Cult 106, 127–141 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11240-010-9900-8

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  • Chilling responses
  • Gene expression
  • In silico cloning
  • Candidate genes