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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Crop Science Research Laboratory » Corn Host Plant Resistance Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #377035

Research Project: Enhanced Resistance of Maize to Aspergillus flavus Infection, Aflatoxin Accumulation, and Insect Damage

Location: Corn Host Plant Resistance Research

Title: The genetic mechanism of heterosis utilization in maize improvement

item XIAO, YINGJIE - Huazhong Agricultural University
item JIANG, SHUQIN - China Agricultural University
item CHENG, QIAN - Northwest A&f University
item WANG, XIAQING - Huazhong Agricultural University
item YAN, JUN - China Agricultural University
item ZHANG, RUYANG - Beijing Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item QIAO, FENG - Huazhong Agricultural University
item MA, CHUANG - Northwest A&f University
item LUO, JINGYUN - Huazhong Agricultural University
item LI, WENQIANG - Huazhong Agricultural University
item LIU, HAIJUN - Huazhong Agricultural University
item YANG, WENYU - Huazhong Agricultural University
item SONG, WENHAO - Huazhong Agricultural University
item MENG, YIJIANG - Agricultural University Of Hebei
item Warburton, Marilyn
item ZHAO, JIURAN - Beijing Academy Of Agricultural Sciences
item WANG, XIANGFENG - China Agricultural University
item YAN, JIANBING - Huazhong Agricultural University

Submitted to: Genome Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/29/2021
Publication Date: 5/10/2021
Citation: Xiao, Y., Jiang, S., Cheng, Q., Wang, X., Yan, J., Zhang, R., Qiao, F., Ma, C., Luo, J., Li, W., Liu, H., Yang, W., Song, W., Meng, Y., Warburton, M.L., Zhao, J., Wang, X., Yan, J. 2021. The genetic mechanism of heterosis utilization in maize improvement. Genome Biology. 22(148):1-29.

Interpretive Summary: Crop breeders try to stack good mutations into a single crop plant, by selecting those individuals who have the most out of a random population of individuals. If the breeders knew which individuals would have these mutations at the DNA level, the selection would be much faster. Even better would be the ability to cause the mutations in one superior line. The study of heterosis, or the yield advantage seen in hybrid plants, has benefited from new molecular tools. Genes causing heterosis are being identified. This study shows several of these genes in maize, and suggests how they can be best combined, selected, and even one day, mutated at will, to create the highest yielding plants for specific growing environments and mechanized harvest.

Technical Abstract: Crop breeders exploit advantageous genetic recombinations to reshuffle trait-associated genetic sequence variants and select superior genotypes. This artificial selection often influences phenotypes by adjusting gene-regulation networks. Here, we present an analysis of 42,840 F1 maize hybrids, generated by crossing 1,428 maternal lines with 30 elite testers and phenotyped for quantitative traits. We show that heterosis of these traits is influenced by widespread epistatic QTLs, which are activated by paternal contribution of alleles that counteract recessive, deleterious maternal alleles. These deleterious alleles, while rare, epistatically repress other favorable QTL. One example, Brachytic2, represses the Ubiquitin3 locus in maternal lines; in hybrids, the paternal allele relieves repression and recovers plant height, and enhances grain yield. We established polygenic interactions during floral transition, which allows the ability to predict and select compact maize cultivars suited to mechanical harvesting. This work will enable targeted breeding via Big Data-driven decision making to accelerate maize improvement.