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Genetic analysis of teosinte alleles for kernel composition traits in maize

Avinash Karn, Jason D. Gillman, Sherry A. Flint-Garcia
G3 GenesGenomesGenetics 2017 v.7 no.4 pp. 1157-1164
Zea mays subsp. parviglumis, agronomic traits, alleles, backcrossing, chromosome mapping, corn, domestication, genetic analysis, genetic variation, germplasm, isogenic lines, landraces, lipid content, near-infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, oils, protein content, proteins, quantitative trait loci, seeds, starch, whole grain foods, Missouri, New York
Teosinte (Zea mays ssp. parviglumis) is the wild ancestor of modern maize (Zea mays ssp. mays). Teosinte contains greater genetic diversity compared to maize inbreds and landraces, but its use is limited by insufficient genetic resources to evaluate its value. A population of teosinte near isogenic lines (teosinte NILs) was previously developed to broaden the resources for genetic diversity of maize, and to discover novel alleles for agronomic and domestication traits. The 961 teosinte NILs were developed by backcrossing ten geographically diverse parviglumis accessions into the B73 (reference genome inbred) background. The NILs were grown in two replications in 2009 and 2010 in Columbia, Missouri and Aurora, New York, respectively, and Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) calibrations were developed and used to rapidly predict total kernel starch, protein and oil content on a dry matter basis in bulk whole grains of teosinte NILs. Our joint-linkage quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping analysis identified two starch, three protein and six oil QTL, which collectively explained 18%, 23% and 45% of the total variation, respectively. A range of strong additive allelic effects for kernel starch, protein and oil content were identified relative to the B73 allele. Our results strongly support our hypothesis that teosinte harbors stronger alleles for kernel composition traits than maize, and can be exploited for the improvement of kernel composition traits in modern maize germplasm.