Genetic and phenotypic analysis of two complementary maize panels revealed an important variation for biomass yield. Flowering and biomass QTL were discovered by association mapping in both panels.
The high whole plant biomass productivity of maize makes it a potential source of energy in animal feeding and biofuel production. The variability and the genetic determinism of traits related to biomass are poorly known. We analyzed two highly diverse panels of Dent and Flint lines representing complementary heterotic groups for Northern Europe. They were genotyped with the 50 k SNP-array and phenotyped as hybrids (crossed to a tester of the complementary pool) in a western European field trial network for traits related to flowering time, plant height, and biomass. The molecular information revealed to be a powerful tool for discovering different levels of structure and relatedness in both panels. This study revealed important variation and potential genetic progress for biomass production, even at constant precocity. Association mapping was run by combining genotypes and phenotypes in a mixed model with a random polygenic effect. This permitted the detection of significant associations, confirming height and flowering time quantitative trait loci (QTL) found in literature. Biomass yield QTL were detected in both panels but were unstable across the environments. Alternative kinship estimator only based on markers unlinked to the tested SNP increased the number of significant associations by around 40 % with a satisfying control of the false positive rate. This study gave insights into the variability and the genetic architectures of biomass-related traits in Flint and Dent lines and suggests important potential of these two pools for breeding high biomass yielding hybrid varieties.
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We are very grateful to all who made possible the gathering of their inbred lines to our panels. In particular, Mark Millard from United States Department of Agriculture North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS) of Ames, USA; Natalia de Leon from University of Wisconsin, USA; Geert Kleijer from Agroscope Changins-Wädenswil of Nyon (ETH Zurich) Switzerland; Wolfgang Schipprack from Universität Hohenheim (UH) of Eckartsweier, Germany; Rita Redaelli from Unita Di Ricerca per la Maiscoltura of Bergamo (ISC), Italy; Amando Ordás from Misión Biológica de Galicia of Pontevedra (CSIC), Spain; Ángel Álvarez from Estacion Experimental de Aula Dei of Zaragoza, Spain; José Ignacio Ruiz de Galarreta from Centro Neiker de Arkaute of Vitoria, Spain; colleagues from Centro de Investigaciones Agrarias de Mabegondo (CIAM), Spain and colleagues from Institut National de la Rercherche Agronomique of (INRA) Saint Martin de Hinx, France. This research was jointly supported as “Cornfed project” by the French National Agency for Research (ANR), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), and the Spanish ministry of Science and Innovation (MICINN). R. Rincent is jointly funded by Limagrain, Biogemma, KWS, and the French ANRt. L. Moreau, S. Nicolas and A. Charcosset conducted this research in the framework of Amaizing Investissement d’Avenir program. The authors thank the reviewers and the editor for their comments which improved the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The authors declare that the experiments comply with the current laws of the countries in which the experiments were performed.
Communicated by Michael Gore.
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Rincent, R., Nicolas, S., Bouchet, S. et al. Dent and Flint maize diversity panels reveal important genetic potential for increasing biomass production. Theor Appl Genet 127, 2313–2331 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-014-2379-7
- Quantitative Trait Locus
- Linkage Disequilibrium
- Genome Wide Association Study
- Association Mapping