R1-nj anthocyanin marker inhibition is highly frequent in tropical maize germplasm considerably affecting efficiency of haploid identification. Molecular markers reliably differentiating germplasm with anthocyanin color inhibitor have been identified in this study. The R1-Navajo (R1-nj) color marker facilitates easy and quick identification of haploid kernels at the seed stage during in vivo haploid induction process in maize. However, the Navajo phenotype can be completely suppressed or poorly expressed in some germplasm, making it impossible or inefficient to identify haploids at the seed stage. In this study, we characterized the expression of R1-nj marker in a large array of tropical/subtropical inbred lines, breeding populations and landraces by crossing with the R1-nj-based tropicalized haploid inducer. There was a high frequency of inhibition of the Navajo phenotype in the maize inbred lines, which are used in tropical breeding programs. Genome-wide association mapping showed that the C1 anthocyanin regulatory locus is the most significant genetic factor influencing inhibition of the Navajo phenotype. Molecular marker assays were designed based on polymorphism in the C1 vs C1-I alleles. Analysis of a set of 714 inbred lines demonstrated that a combination of two gene-specific markers-8 bp C1-I InDel and C1-I SNP-could predict with high accuracy the presence of anthocyanin color inhibition in the germplasm analyzed. Information generated in this study aids in making informed decisions on the constitution of source populations for doubled haploid (DH) line development in tropical germplasm, particularly those derived from elite maize lines from CIMMYT. The C1-I gene-specific molecular markers identified and validated will facilitate high-throughput and cost-effective evaluation of a large pool of germplasm for the presence of the dominant color inhibitor in maize germplasm.
Identifying quantitative trait loci (QTL) of sizeable effects that are expressed in diverse genetic backgrounds across contrasting water regimes particularly for secondary traits can significantly complement the conventional drought tolerance breeding efforts. We evaluated three tropical maize biparental populations under water-stressed and well-watered regimes for drought-related morpho-physiological traits, such as anthesis-silking interval (ASI), ears per plant (EPP), stay-green (SG) and plant-to-ear height ratio (PEH). In general, drought stress reduced the genetic variance of grain yield (GY), while that of morpho-physiological traits remained stable or even increased under drought conditions. We detected consistent genomic regions across different genetic backgrounds that could be target regions for marker-assisted introgression for drought tolerance in maize. A total of 203 QTL for ASI, EPP, SG and PEH were identified under both the water regimes. Meta-QTL analysis across the three populations identified six constitutive genomic regions with a minimum of two overlapping traits. Clusters of QTL were observed on chromosomes 1.06, 3.06, 4.09, 5.05, 7.03 and 10.04/06. Interestingly, a ~8-Mb region delimited in 3.06 harboured QTL for most of the morpho-physiological traits considered in the current study. This region contained two important candidate genes viz., zmm16 (MADS-domain transcription factor) and psbs1 (photosystem II unit) that are responsible for reproductive organ development and photosynthate accumulation, respectively. The genomic regions identified in this study partially explained the association of secondary traits with GY. Flanking single nucleotide polymorphism markers reported herein may be useful in marker-assisted introgression of drought tolerance in tropical maize.
Identification of QTL with large phenotypic effects conserved across genetic backgrounds and environments is one of the prerequisites for crop improvement using marker assisted selection (MAS). The objectives of this study were to identify meta-QTL (mQTL) for grain yield (GY) and anthesis silking interval (ASI) across 18 bi-parental maize populations evaluated in the same conditions across 2-4 managed water stressed and 3-4 well watered environments.
The genus Anabaena is one of the commonly observed genera in the rice fields in South-east Asia. Diversity analyses of a set of 70 Anabaena strains (including 67 strains isolated from diverse rice agro ecologies of India, and three International Reference/Type strains), was carried out using morphological and molecular datasets. The pattern of growth in liquid and solid medium and microscopic observations revealed tremendous diversity in the Anabaena germplasm analysed. The species wise distribution in different soil types and soil pH revealed that Anabaena iyengarii was present at pH ranging from 5.5-8.5 and all the species of Anabaena except A. oscillarioides were present in alluvium soils. Molecular profiling using primers based on HipTG, STRR(mod) and STRR1A sequences generated specific fingerprints for individual isolates. STRR1A was observed to be the most informative and useful for differentiating the isolates. Analyses of a combined dataset, including both morphological and molecular data, proved highly effective in discerning the genetic relationships among the 70 Anabaena strains. The present study provided useful information for the development of a comprehensive database based on the distribution of Anabaena strains in diverse agro ecologies of India and identified useful primers for PCR based differentiation of isolates.
Despite numerous published reports of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for drought-related traits, practical applications of such QTL in maize improvement are scarce. Identifying QTL of sizeable effects that express more or less uniformly in diverse genetic backgrounds across contrasting water regimes could significantly complement conventional breeding efforts to improve drought tolerance. We evaluated three tropical bi-parental populations under water-stress (WS) and well-watered (WW) regimes in Mexico, Kenya and Zimbabwe to identify genomic regions responsible for grain yield (GY) and anthesis-silking interval (ASI) across multiple environments and diverse genetic backgrounds. Across the three populations, on average, drought stress reduced GY by more than 50 % and increased ASI by 3.2 days. We identified a total of 83 and 62 QTL through individual environment analyses for GY and ASI, respectively. In each population, most QTL consistently showed up in each water regime. Across the three populations, the phenotypic variance explained by various individual QTL ranged from 2.6 to 17.8 % for GY and 1.7 to 17.8 % for ASI under WS environments and from 5 to 19.5 % for GY under WW environments. Meta-QTL (mQTL) analysis across the three populations and multiple environments identified seven genomic regions for GY and one for ASI, of which six mQTL on chr.1, 4, 5 and 10 for GY were constitutively expressed across WS and WW environments. One mQTL on chr.7 for GY and one on chr.3 for ASI were found to be adaptive to WS conditions. High throughput assays were developed for SNPs that delimit the physical intervals of these mQTL. At most of the QTL, almost equal number of favorable alleles was donated by either of the parents within each cross, thereby demonstrating the potential of drought tolerant × drought tolerant crosses to identify QTL under contrasting water regimes.
Whereas breeders have exploited diversity in maize for yield improvements, there has been limited progress in using beneficial alleles in undomesticated varieties. Characterizing standing variation in this complex genome has been challenging, with only a small fraction of it described to date. Using a population genetics scoring model, we identified 55 million SNPs in 103 lines across pre-domestication and domesticated Zea mays varieties, including a representative from the sister genus Tripsacum. We find that structural variations are pervasive in the Z. mays genome and are enriched at loci associated with important traits. By investigating the drivers of genome size variation, we find that the larger Tripsacum genome can be explained by transposable element abundance rather than an allopolyploid origin. In contrast, intraspecies genome size variation seems to be controlled by chromosomal knob content. There is tremendous overlap in key gene content in maize and Tripsacum, suggesting that adaptations from Tripsacum (for example, perennialism and frost and drought tolerance) can likely be integrated into maize.
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