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Nat Genet. 2013 Jan;45(1):43-50. doi: 10.1038/ng.2484. Epub 2012 Dec 16.

Genome-wide association study dissects the genetic architecture of oil biosynthesis in maize kernels.

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National Maize Improvement Center of China, Beijing Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.


Maize kernel oil is a valuable source of nutrition. Here we extensively examine the genetic architecture of maize oil biosynthesis in a genome-wide association study using 1.03 million SNPs characterized in 368 maize inbred lines, including 'high-oil' lines. We identified 74 loci significantly associated with kernel oil concentration and fatty acid composition (P < 1.8 × 10(-6)), which we subsequently examined using expression quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, linkage mapping and coexpression analysis. More than half of the identified loci localized in mapped QTL intervals, and one-third of the candidate genes were annotated as enzymes in the oil metabolic pathway. The 26 loci associated with oil concentration could explain up to 83% of the phenotypic variation using a simple additive model. Our results provide insights into the genetic basis of oil biosynthesis in maize kernels and may facilitate marker-based breeding for oil quantity and quality.

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