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Identification of quantitative trait locus and prediction of candidate genes for grain mineral concentration in maize across multiple environments

Zhang, Huaduo, Liu, Jingxian, Jin, Tiantian, Huang, Yaqun, Chen, Jingtang, Zhu, Liying, Zhao, Yongfeng, Guo, Jinjie
Euphytica 2017 v.213 no.4 pp. 90
Zea mays, biofortification, chromosomes, copper, corn, genes, genetic correlation, inbred lines, iron, manganese, mineral content, phenotype, phenotypic correlation, plant breeding, prediction, quantitative trait loci, staple foods, zinc
Trace metal elements are essential in daily diets for human health and normal growth. Maize is staple food for people in many countries. However, maize has low mineral concentration which makes it difficult to meet human requirements for micronutrients. The objective of this study was to identify quantitative trait locus (QTL) and predict candidate genes associated with mineral concentration in maize grain. Here, a recombinant inbred line population was used to test phenotype of zinc (Zn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu) and manganese (Mn) concentrations in six environments and then a QTL analysis was conducted using single environment analysis along with multiple environment trial (MET) analysis. These two strategies detected a total of 64 and 67 QTLs for target traits, respectively. Single environment analysis revealed 13 QTL bins distributed on seven chromosomes. We found that five candidate genes associated with mineral concentration were located in the same intervals identified by Comparative mapping of meta-QTLs in our previous study. The genetic and phenotypic correlation coefficients were depended on the nutrient traits and they were significant between Fe and Zn, Fe and Cu, Fe and Mn in all environments. The results of this study illustrated the genetic correlation between maize grain mineral concentrations, and identified some promising genomic regions and candidate genes for further studies on the biofortification of mineral concentration in maize grain.