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J Exp Bot. 2012 Jan;63(1):261-74. doi: 10.1093/jxb/err277. Epub 2011 Oct 6.

Integrated multiple population analysis of leaf architecture traits in maize (Zea mays L.).

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College of Agronomy, Henan Agricultural University and Key Laboratory of Physiological Ecology and Genetic Improvement of Food Crops in Henan Province, Zhengzhou, 450002, China.


Leaf morphology in maize is regulated by developmental patterning along three axes: proximodistal, mediolateral, and adaxial-abaxial. Maize contains homologues of many genes identified as regulators of leaf development in other species, but their relationship to the natural variation of leaf shape remains unknown. In this study, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for leaf angle, leaf orientation value, leaf length, and leaf width were mapped by a total of 256 F(2:3) families evaluated in three environments. Meta-analysis was used to integrate genetic maps and detect QTLs across several independent QTL studies, on the basis of the previously reported experimental results for leaf architecture traits. Candidate gene sequences for leaf architecture were mapped in the integrated consensus genetic map. In total, 21 QTLs and 17 meta-QTLs (mQTLs) were detected. Among these QTLs, qLA1-1 and qLA2 were consistently detected in five and three populations respectively, and six of seven QTLs with contributions (R(2)) >10% were integrated in mQTLs. Six key mQTLs (mQTL1-1, mQTL2-1, mQTL3-3, mQTL5-1, mQTL7-2, and mQTL8-1) with R(2) of some initial QTLs >10% included 4-6 initial QTLs associated with 2-4 traits. Therefore, the chromosome regions for six mQTLs with high QTL co-localization might be hot spots of the important QTLs for the associated traits. Fifteen key candidate genes controlling leaf architecture traits coincided with 11 corresponding mQTLs, namely DWARF4, KAN3, liguleless1, TAC1, ROT3, AS2/liguleless2, PFL2, yabby9/SE/LIC/yabby15, mwp1, CYCD3;2, and CYCB1. In particular, DWARF4, liguleless1, AS2/liguleless2, yabby9/SE/LIC/yabby15, and CYCD3;2 were mapped within the important mQTL1-1, mQTL2-1, mQTL3-3, mQTL5-1, and mQTL7-2 intervals, respectively. Fine mapping or construction of single chromosome segment lines for genetic regions of these five mQTLs is worth further study and could be put to use in marker-assisted breeding. In conclusion, the results provide useful information for further research and help to reveal the molecular mechanisms with regard to leaf architecture traits.

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