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Plant Biotechnol J. 2019 Jun 14. doi: 10.1111/pbi.13186. [Epub ahead of print]

Genome-wide identification and analysis of heterotic loci in three maize hybrids.

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State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Life Sciences, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an, China.
Shanghai Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Sciences, College of Life Sciences, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China.
National Center for Gene Research, CAS Center for Excellence of Molecular Plant Sciences, Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
State Key Laboratory of Agrobiotechnology and National Maize Improvement Center, Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.
College of Agriculture, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, China.
State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Agronomy, Shandong Agricultural University, Tai'an, China.
Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA.


Heterosis, or hybrid vigour, is a predominant phenomenon in plant genetics, serving as the basis of crop hybrid breeding, but the causative loci and genes underlying heterosis remain unclear in many crops. Here, we present a large-scale genetic analysis using 5360 offsprings from three elite maize hybrids, which identifies 628 loci underlying 19 yield-related traits with relatively high mapping resolutions. Heterotic pattern investigations of the 628 loci show that numerous loci, mostly with complete-incomplete dominance (the major one) or overdominance effects (the secondary one) for heterozygous genotypes and nearly equal proportion of advantageous alleles from both parental lines, are the major causes of strong heterosis in these hybrids. Follow-up studies for 17 heterotic loci in an independent experiment using 2225 F2 individuals suggest most heterotic effects are roughly stable between environments with a small variation. Candidate gene analysis for one major heterotic locus (ub3) in maize implies that there may exist some common genes contributing to crop heterosis. These results provide a community resource for genetics studies in maize and new implications for heterosis in plants.


genomics; heterosis; maize; molecular breeding; quantitative trait loci

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