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Mapping QTLs for root traits under different nitrate levels at the seedling stage in maize (Zea mays L.)

Abstract

Nitrogen (N) loss is a worldwide problem in crop production. Apart from reasonable N fertilizer application, breeding N efficient cultivars provides an alternative way. Root architecture is an important factor determining N acquisition. However, little is known about the molecular genetic basis for root growth in relation to N supply. In the present study, an F8 maize (Zea may L.) recombinant inbred (RI) population consisting of 94 lines was used to identify the QTLs for root traits under different nitrate levels. The lateral root length (LRL), axial root length (ARL), maximal axial root length (MARL), axial root number (ARN) and average axial root length (AARL) were evaluated under low N (LN) and high N (HN) conditions in a hydroponics system. A total of 17 QTLs were detected among which 14 loci are located on the same chromosome region as published QTLs for root traits. A major QTL on chromosome 1 (between bnlg1025 and umc2029) for the AARL under LN could explain 43.7% of the phenotypic variation. This QTL co-localizes with previously reported QTLs that associate with root traits, grain yield, and N uptake. Our results indicate that longer axial roots are important for efficient N acquisition and the major QTL for AARL may be used as a marker in breeding N efficient maize genotypes.

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Acknowledgements

This work is funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (No. 2005CB120900) and NSF of China (No. 30600381, 30471032). FZ is supported by the Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University (IRT0511). The authors would greatly thank Prof A. D. M. Glass and Dr Yan Fu for their critical comments and improvement of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Fanjun Chen or Guohua Mi.

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Responsible Editor: Hans Lambers.

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Liu, J., Li, J., Chen, F. et al. Mapping QTLs for root traits under different nitrate levels at the seedling stage in maize (Zea mays L.). Plant Soil 305, 253–265 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-008-9562-z

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Keywords

  • Maize (Zea may L.)
  • Nitrogen
  • Quantitative trait loci (QTLs)
  • Root