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QTL mapping of stalk bending strength in a recombinant inbred line maize population

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Stalk bending strength (SBS) is a reliable indicator for evaluating stalk lodging resistance of maize plants. Based on biomechanical considerations, the maximum load exerted to breaking (F max), the breaking moment (M max) and critical stress (σ max) are three important parameters to characterize SBS. We investigated the genetic architecture of SBS by phenotyping F max, M max and σ max of the fourth internode of maize plants in a population of 216 recombinant inbred lines derived from the cross B73 × Ce03005 evaluated in four environments. Heritability of F max, M max and σ max was 0.81, 0.79 and 0.75, respectively. F max and σ max were positively correlated with several other stalk characters. By using a linkage map with 129 SSR markers, we detected two, three and two quantitative trait loci (QTL) explaining 22.4, 26.1 and 17.2 % of the genotypic variance for F max, M max and σ max, respectively. The QTL for F max, M max and σ max located in adjacent bins 5.02 and 5.03 as well as in bin 10.04 for F max were detected with high frequencies in cross-validation. As our QTL mapping results suggested a complex polygenic inheritance for SBS-related traits, we also evaluated the prediction accuracy of two genomic prediction methods (GBLUP and BayesB). In general, we found that both explained considerably higher proportions of the genetic variance than the values obtained in QTL mapping with cross-validation. Nevertheless, the identified QTL regions could be used as a starting point for fine mapping and gene cloning.

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Stalk bending strength


Rind penetrometer resistance


Near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy


The fourth internode above ground

F max :

The maximum load exerted to breaking

M max :

Breaking moment

σ max :

Critical stress


Larger diameter of cross section


Smaller diameter of cross section


Internode length


Fresh weight of the internode


Dry weight of the internode


Internode water content


Fresh weight of internode per unit volume


Dry weight of internode per unit volume


Acid detergent lignin content per unit volume


Cellulose content per unit volume


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We thank Lianying Yu, Baohua Liu and Yan Luo of China Agricultural University for their help in the three-point bending test. We also thank H. Fritz Utz, Tobias Schrag and Xuefei Mi for their suggestions on the data analysis. This research was supported by grants from the Modern Maize Industry Technology System Foundation of China (No. nycytx-02) to S. Chen, DFG, Grant No. 1070/1, International Research Training Group “Sustainable Resource Use in North China” to A.E. Melchinger and National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 10972234) to Z. Fu.

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Correspondence to Albrecht E. Melchinger or Shaojiang Chen.

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Communicated by N. de Leon.

H. Hu and W. Liu contributed equally to this work.

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Hu, H., Liu, W., Fu, Z. et al. QTL mapping of stalk bending strength in a recombinant inbred line maize population. Theor Appl Genet 126, 2257–2266 (2013).

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