, 214:15 | Cite as

Identification of quantitative trait loci for agronomic and physiological traits in maize (Zea mays L.) under high-nitrogen and low-nitrogen conditions

  • Kunhui He
  • Liguo Chang
  • Yuan Dong
  • Tingting Cui
  • Jianzhou Qu
  • Xueyan Liu
  • Shutu Xu
  • Jiquan Xue
  • Jianchao Liu


Low-nitrogen (LN) tolerance is a compound character with a complex genetic basis. Many agronomic traits have been shown to be closely related to LN tolerance in maize. In this study, 150 F7 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between inbreds 178 and K12 were evaluated for agronomical and physiological traits under high-nitrogen (HN) and LN conditions in 2 years. Inclusive composite interval mapping (ICIM) was used to identify the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for traits recorded under different treatments (LN and HN) in 2 years. In total, 86 QTLs were detected: 38 for HN and 35 for LN, while 13 QTLs were detected under both nitrogen levels, suggesting that LN-specific QTLs may play a role in improving LN tolerance in maize. Overlapping QTLs for different traits were located on all chromosomes except chromosome 4 and chromosome 9. Many of these regions overlapped with previously reported QTLs. Several consensus major QTLs and LN-specific major QTLs found in the study can be used in marker-assisted selection breeding for genetic improvement and LN tolerance in maize in the future.


Maize Agronomic traits Low-nitrogen tolerance LN-specific QTL 



Best linear unbiased prediction


Ear height


Green leaf number


Grain number per ear


Grain yield per plant




Leaf area


Leaf length




Leaf width


Plant height


Quantitative trait loci


Recombinant inbred lines


Relative chlorophyll content of the lower ear leaf


Relative chlorophyll content of the ear leaf


Relative chlorophyll content of the upper ear leaf



This study was supported financially by the National Science Foundation of China (No. 31301830), Natural Science Basic Research Plan in Shaanxi Province of China (No. 2014JQ3108), and Special Fund for Basic Research in Northwest A&F University (No. QN2012001).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunhui He
    • 1
  • Liguo Chang
    • 1
  • Yuan Dong
    • 1
  • Tingting Cui
    • 1
  • Jianzhou Qu
    • 1
  • Xueyan Liu
    • 1
  • Shutu Xu
    • 1
  • Jiquan Xue
    • 1
  • Jianchao Liu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Biology and Genetic Improvement of Maize in Arid Area of Northwest Region, Ministry of Agriculture, Maize Engineering & Technology Research Centre of Shaanxi Province, College of AgronomyNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingChina

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