Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Ithaca, New York » Robert W. Holley Center for Agriculture & Health » Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #241573

Title: The Genetic Architecture of Maize Flowering Time

item Buckler, Edward - Ed
item Holland, Jim - Jim
item McMullen, Michael
item KRESOVICH, STEPHEN - Cornell University
item ACHARYA, CHARLOTTE - Cornell University
item Bradbury, Peter
item BROWN, PATRICK - Cornell University
item Browne, Christopher
item Eller, Magen
item ERSOZ, ELHAN - Cornell University
item Flint-Garcia, Sherry
item Garcia, Arturo
item GLAUBITZ, JEFFREY - University Of Wisconsin
item GOODMAN, MAJOR - North Carolina State University
item HARIES, CARLOS - Monsanto Corporation
item Guill, Katherine
item KROON, DALLAS - Cornell University
item LARSSON, SARA - Cornell University
item Lepak, Nicholas
item LI, HUIHUI - Beijing Normal University
item MITCHELL, SHARON - Cornell University
item PRESSOIR, GAEL - Cornell University
item PEIFFER, JASON - Cornell University
item OROPEZA ROSAS, MARCO - North Carolina State University
item ROCHEFORD, TORBERT - University Of Illinois
item ROMAY, CINTA - Cornell University
item ROMERO, SUSAN - Cornell University
item Salvo, Stella
item SANCHEZ VILLEDA, HECTOR - University Of Missouri
item SUN, QI - Cornell University
item TIAN, FENG - Cornell University
item UPADYAYULA, NARASIMHAM - University Of Illinois
item Ware, Doreen
item YATES, HEATHER - Cornell University
item YU, JIANMING - Kansas State University
item ZHANG, ZHIWU - Cornell University

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/10/2009
Publication Date: 8/7/2009
Citation: Buckler Iv, E.S., Holland, J.B., Mcmullen, M.D., Kresovich, S., Acharya, C., Bradbury, P., Brown, P., Browne, C.J., Eller, M.S., Ersoz, E., Flint Garcia, S.A., Garcia, A., Glaubitz, J.C., Goodman, M., Haries, C., Guill, K.E., Kroon, D., Larsson, S., Lepak, N.K., Li, H., Mitchell, S.E., Pressoir, G., Peiffer, J., Oropeza Rosas, M., Rocheford, T., Romay, C., Romero, S., Salvo, S.A., Sanchez Villeda, H., Sun, Q., Tian, F., Upadyayula, N., Ware, D., Yates, H., Yu, J., Zhang, Z. 2009. The Genetic Architecture of Maize Flowering Time. Science. 325(5941):714-718.

Interpretive Summary: What is at the basis of natural phenotypic variation? Do a few or many genes control this variation? Are there multiple variants at each of these genes? These are central questions for medicine and agriculture. This study has used maize flowering time as a model to begin addressing these questions. The largest study of its kind, our research suggests that each trait in maize is controlled by fifty to 100 genes. Because flowering time is a trait whose variation allows us to grow maize in different environments throughout the world, identifying and understanding the genes behind this trait has important implications for agriculture as well as for expanding our knowledge on genetic variation for other species. This study identifies new variants which control flowering time, and we will soon be able to map the association between genes and traits for the complete set of genes in maize.

Technical Abstract: Flowering time is the key trait controlling adaptation of plants to their local environment, and, in an outcrossing species like maize, it is a complex trait. Variation for this complex trait was dissected in maize using a novel set of 5000 recombinant inbred lines (maize Nested Association Mapping population; NAM) that were specifically designed to capture much of the genetic variation in this very diverse species. In an evaluation across eight environments of nearly a million plants, we found no evidence for large effect quantitative trait loci (QTL) but rather evidence for numerous small effect QTL. Many of the QTL appear to be shared among families, with alleles having different functional effects at each QTL distributed across founder lines. Although allelic effects at many loci are loosely related to founder geographic origin, no individual QTL defines geographic population structure. The contributions of epistasis and interactions with the environment to phenotypic variation were minimal. As a result, a simple additive model accurately predicts flowering time for a range of related germplasm. By combining NAM linkage mapping with gene-phenotype association data, we were able to evaluate the effects of several genes controlling flowering. As genomic resources are developed for maize, this panel will provide tremendous opportunities to dissect complex traits and mine maize variation for improvement.