Validation of functional polymorphisms affecting maize plant height by unoccupied aerial systems discovers novel temporal phenotypes.
Additional Document Info
Plant height (PHT) in maize (Zea mays L.) has been scrutinized genetically and phenotypically due to relationship with other agronomically valuable traits (e.g., yield). Heritable variation of PHT is determined by many discovered quantitative trait loci; however, phenotypic effects of such loci often lack validation across environments and genetic backgrounds, especially in the hybrid state grown by farmers rather than the inbred state more often used by geneticists. A previous genome-wide association study using a topcrossed hybrid diversity panel identified two novel quantitative trait variants controlling both PHT and grain yield. Here, heterogeneous inbred families demonstrated that these two loci, characterized by two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), cause phenotypic variation in inbred lines, but that size of these effects were variable across four different genetic backgrounds, ranging from 1 to 10cm. Weekly unoccupied aerial system flights demonstrated the two SNPs had larger effects, varying from 10 to 25cm, in early growth while effects decreased toward the end of the season. These results show that allelic effect sizes of economically valuable loci are both dynamic in temporal growth and dynamic across genetic backgrounds, resulting in informative phenotypic variability overlooked following traditional phenotyping methods. Public genotyping data show recent favorable allele selection in elite temperate germplasm with little change across tropical backgrounds. As these loci remain rarer in tropical germplasm, with effects most visible early in growth, they are useful for breeding and selection to expand the genetic basis of maize.