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PLoS One. 2016 Apr 12;11(4):e0153428. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153428. eCollection 2016.

The Genetic Basis of Natural Variation in Kernel Size and Related Traits Using a Four-Way Cross Population in Maize.

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College of Agronomy, Synergetic Innovation Center of Henan Grain Crops and National Key Laboratory of Wheat and Maize Crop Science, Henan Agricultural University, Zhengzhou, 450002, China.
The National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Institute of Crop Science and CIMMYT China Office, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 100081, China.
Henan Vocational College of Agriculture, Zhengzhou, 450002, China.


Kernel size is an important component of grain yield in maize breeding programs. To extend the understanding on the genetic basis of kernel size traits (i.e., kernel length, kernel width and kernel thickness), we developed a set of four-way cross mapping population derived from four maize inbred lines with varied kernel sizes. In the present study, we investigated the genetic basis of natural variation in seed size and other components of maize yield (e.g., hundred kernel weight, number of rows per ear, number of kernels per row). In total, ten QTL affecting kernel size were identified, three of which (two for kernel length and one for kernel width) had stable expression in other components of maize yield. The possible genetic mechanism behind the trade-off of kernel size and yield components was discussed.

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