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Characterization and fine mapping of qkc7.03: a major locus for kernel cracking in maize

Yang, Mingtao, Chen, Lin, Wu, Xun, Gao, Xing, Li, Chunhui, Song, Yanchun, Zhang, Dengfeng, Shi, Yunsu, Li, Yu, Li, Yong-xiang, Wang, Tianyu
Theoretical and applied genetics 2018 v.131 no.2 pp. 437-448
transcription factors, transcriptomics, Zea mays, starch granules, loci, pericarp, corn, transcription (genetics), gene expression, cracking, chromosome mapping, endosperm, genes, progeny testing, transcriptome, zein, embryogenesis, gene expression regulation, seed development
KEY MESSAGE: A major locus conferring kernel cracking in maize was characterized and fine mapped to an interval of 416.27 kb. Meanwhile, combining the results of transcriptomic analysis, the candidate gene was inferred. Seed development requires a proper structural and physiological balance between the maternal tissues and the internal structures of the seeds. In maize, kernel cracking is a disorder in this balance that seriously limits quality and yield and is characterized by a cracked pericarp at the kernel top and endosperm everting. This study elucidated the genetic basis and characterization of kernel cracking. Primarily, a near isogenic line (NIL) with a B73 background exhibited steady kernel cracking across environments. Therefore, deprived mapping populations were developed from this NIL and its recurrent parent B73. A major locus on chromosome 7, qkc7.03, was identified to be associated with the cracking performance. According to a progeny test of recombination events, qkc7.03 was fine mapped to a physical interval of 416.27 kb. In addition, obvious differences were observed in embryo development and starch granule arrangement within the endosperm between the NIL and its recurrent parent upon the occurrence of kernel cracking. Moreover, compared to its recurrent parent, the transcriptome of the NIL showed a significantly down-regulated expression of genes related to zeins, carbohydrate synthesis and MADS-domain transcription factors. The transcriptomic analysis revealed ten annotated genes within the target region of qkc7.03, and only GRMZM5G899476 was differently expressed between the NIL and its recurrent parent, indicating that this gene might be a candidate gene for kernel cracking. The results of this study facilitate the understanding of the potential mechanism underlying kernel cracking in maize.