Endoreduplication in maize endosperm precedes the onset of starch and storage protein synthesis, and it is generally thought to influence grain filling. We created four backcross populations by reciprocally crossing the F1 progeny of a cross between Sg18 and Mo17 to the parental inbreds, which differ in endoreduplication by two parameters-mean ploidy and percentage of endoreduplicated nuclei. This four-backcross design allowed us to estimate and test the additive and dominant genetic effects of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) affecting endoreduplication. An analysis of endosperm from the four backcross populations at 16 days after pollination using a modified triploid mapping approach identified three endosperm QTLs influencing mean ploidy and two endosperm QTLs affecting the percentage of endoreduplicated nuclei. Some of these QTLs may manifest their effects on endoreduplication via expression in the embryo. The QTLs detected display strong dominance or over-dominance and interacted epistatically with an embryo-expressed QTL. This helps to explain the genetic basis for transgressive segregation in the backcross progeny. Although the favorable alleles that increase mean ploidy and percentage of endoreduplicated nuclei can be contributed by both parents, the Mo17-derived alleles for endoreduplication were often dominant or over-dominant to the Sg18-derived allele. One QTL on chromosome 7 that may be expressed in both the embryo and endosperm exerted a pleiotropic effect on two different parameters of endoreduplication. The results from this study shed light on the regulation of endoreduplication in maize endosperm and provide a marker-assisted selection strategy for potentially improving grain yield.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science