Characterization of the maize lipoxygenase gene family in relation to aflatoxin accumulation resistance.
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Maize (Zea mays L.) is a globally important staple food crop prone to contamination by aflatoxin, a carcinogenic secondary metabolite produced by the fungus Aspergillus flavus. An efficient approach to reduce accumulation of aflatoxin is the development of germplasm resistant to colonization and toxin production by A. flavus. Lipoxygenases (LOXs) are a group of non-heme iron containing dioxygenase enzymes that catalyze oxygenation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). LOX derived oxylipins play critical roles in plant defense against pathogens including A. flavus. The objectives of this study were to summarize sequence diversity and expression patterns for all LOX genes in the maize genome, and map their effect on aflatoxin accumulation via linkage and association mapping. In total, 13 LOX genes were identified, characterized, and mapped. The sequence of one gene, ZmLOX10, is reported from 5 inbred lines. Genes ZmLOX1/2, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12 (GRMZM2G156861, or V4 numbers ZM00001D042541 and Zm00001D042540, GRMZM2G102760, GRMZM2G104843, GRMZM2G017616, GRMZM2G015419, and GRMZM2G106748, respectively) fell under previously published QTL in one or more mapping populations and are linked to a measurable reduction of aflatoxin in maize grains. Association mapping results found 28 of the 726 SNPs tested were associated with reduced aflatoxin levels at p 9.71 x 10-4 according to association statistics. These fell within or near nine of the ZmLOX genes. This work confirms the importance of some lipoxygenases for resistance to aflatoxin accumulation and may be used to direct future genetic selection in maize.