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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 #358252

Research Project: Improving Crop Efficiency Using Genomic Diversity and Computational Modeling

Location: Plant, Soil and Nutrition Research

Title: Novel loci underlie natural variation in vitamin E levels in maize grain

item DIEPENBROCK, CHRISTINE - Cornell University
item KANDIANIS, CATHERINE - Cornell University
item LIPKA, ALEXANDER - Cornell University
item MAGALLANES-LUNDBACK, MARIA - Michigan State University
item VAILLANCOURT, BRIEANNE - Michigan State University
item GONGORA-CASTILLO, ELSA - Michigan State University
item WALLACE, JASON - Cornell University
item CEPELA, JASON - Michigan State University
item MESBERG, ALEX - Michigan State University
item Bradbury, Peter
item ILUT, DANIEL - Cornell University
item MATEOS-HERNANDEZ, MARIA - Purdue University
item HAMILTON, JOHN - Michigan State University
item OWENS, BRENDA - Purdue University
item TIEDE, TYLER - Purdue University
item Buckler, Edward - Ed
item ROCHEFORD, TORBERT - Purdue University
item BUELL, ROBIN - Michigan State University
item GORE, MICHAEL - Cornell University
item DELLAPENNA, DEAN - Michigan State University

Submitted to: The Plant Cell
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/1/2017
Publication Date: 10/2/2017
Citation: Diepenbrock, C., Kandianis, C., Lipka, A., Magallanes-Lundback, M., Vaillancourt, B., Gongora-Castillo, E., Wallace, J., Cepela, J., Mesberg, A., Bradbury, P., Ilut, D., Mateos-Hernandez, M., Hamilton, J., Owens, B., Tiede, T., Buckler IV, E.S., Rocheford, T., Buell, R., Gore, M., Dellapenna, D. 2017. Novel loci underlie natural variation in vitamin E levels in maize grain. The Plant Cell. 29(10):2374-2392. DOI:

Interpretive Summary: Tocochromanols are lipid-soluble antioxidants --made by all plants --that are also consumed by humans, primarily in the form of seed oils. Some of these compounds have vitamin E activity, among other benefits to plant fitness and human and animal health. This study analyzed how genetics influence the levels of vitamin E in maize grain, a major food staple. Through our research, we identified 14 genes that influence the level of ocochromanolsvin maize grain. Understanding how these genes affect tocochromanols provides a clear path forward for breeding for vitamin E levels in maize grain, and perhaps also in other major cereals.

Technical Abstract: Tocopherols, tocotrienols, and plastochromanols (collectively termed tocochromanols) are lipid-soluble antioxidants synthesized by all plants. Their dietary intake, primarily from seed oils, provides vitamin E and other health benefits. Tocochromanol biosynthesis has been dissected in the dicot Arabidopsis thaliana, which has green, photosynthetic seeds, but our understanding of tocochromanol accumulation in major crops, whose seeds are nonphotosynthetic, remains limited. To understand the genetic control of tocochromanols in grain, we conducted a joint linkage and genome-wide association study in the 5000-line U.S. maize (Zea mays) nested association mapping panel. Fifty-two quantitative trait loci for individual and total tocochromanols were identified, and of the 14 resolved to individual genes, six encode novel activities affecting tocochromanols in plants. These include two chlorophyll biosynthetic enzymes that explain the majority of tocopherol variation, which was not predicted given that, like most major cereal crops, maize grain is nonphotosynthetic. This comprehensive assessment of natural variation in vitamin E levels in maize establishes the foundation for improving tocochromanol and vitamin E content in seeds of maize and other major cereal crops.