Mapping QTLs for root traits under different nitrate levels at the seedling stage in maize (Zea mays L.)

Jianchao Liu, Jiansheng Li, Fanjun Chen, Fusuo Zhang, Tianheng Ren, Zhongjuan Zhuang, Guohua Mi

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94 Scopus citations


Nitrogen (N) loss is a worldwide problem in crop production. Apart from reasonable N fertilizer application, breeding N efficient cultivars provides an alternative way. Root architecture is an important factor determining N acquisition. However, little is known about the molecular genetic basis for root growth in relation to N supply. In the present study, an F8 maize (Zea may L.) recombinant inbred (RI) population consisting of 94 lines was used to identify the QTLs for root traits under different nitrate levels. The lateral root length (LRL), axial root length (ARL), maximal axial root length (MARL), axial root number (ARN) and average axial root length (AARL) were evaluated under low N (LN) and high N (HN) conditions in a hydroponics system. A total of 17 QTLs were detected among which 14 loci are located on the same chromosome region as published QTLs for root traits. A major QTL on chromosome 1 (between bnlg1025 and umc2029) for the AARL under LN could explain 43.7% of the phenotypic variation. This QTL co-localizes with previously reported QTLs that associate with root traits, grain yield, and N uptake. Our results indicate that longer axial roots are important for efficient N acquisition and the major QTL for AARL may be used as a marker in breeding N efficient maize genotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalPlant and Soil
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Maize (Zea may L.)
  • Nitrogen
  • Quantitative trait loci (QTLs)
  • Root


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