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Plant Cell. 2004 Oct;16(10):2719-33. Epub 2004 Sep 17.

Dissection of maize kernel composition and starch production by candidate gene association.

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Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA.


Cereal starch production forms the basis of subsistence for much of the world's human and domesticated animal populations. Starch concentration and composition in the maize (Zea mays ssp mays) kernel are complex traits controlled by many genes. In this study, an association approach was used to evaluate six maize candidate genes involved in kernel starch biosynthesis: amylose extender1 (ae1), brittle endosperm2 (bt2), shrunken1 (sh1), sh2, sugary1, and waxy1. Major kernel composition traits, such as protein, oil, and starch concentration, were assessed as well as important starch composition quality traits, including pasting properties and amylose levels. Overall, bt2, sh1, and sh2 showed significant associations for kernel composition traits, whereas ae1 and sh2 showed significant associations for starch pasting properties. ae1 and sh1 both associated with amylose levels. Additionally, haplotype analysis of sh2 suggested this gene is involved in starch viscosity properties and amylose content. Despite starch concentration being only moderately heritable for this particular panel of diverse maize inbreds, high resolution was achieved when evaluating these starch candidate genes, and diverse alleles for breeding and further molecular analysis were identified.

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