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Comparative Analysis of Root Traits and the Associated QTLs for Maize Seedlings Grown in Paper Roll, Hydroponics and Vermiculite Culture System

Comparative Analysis of Root Traits and the Associated QTLs for Maize Seedlings Grown in Paper Roll, Hydroponics and Vermiculite Culture System

Frontiers in Plant Science 8: 436

ISSN/ISBN: 1664-462X

PMID: 28424719

DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2017.00436

Root system architecture (RSA) plays an important role in the acquisition of both nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) from the environment. Currently RSA is rarely considered as criteria for selection to improve nutrient uptake efficiency in crop breeding. Under field conditions roots can be greatly influenced by uncontrolled environment factors. Therefore, it is necessary to develop fast selection methods for evaluating root traits of young seedlings in the lab which can then be related to high nutrient efficiency of adult plants in the field. Here, a maize recombination inbred line (RILs) population was used to compare the genetic relationship between RSA and nitrogen and phosphorous efficiency traits. The phenotypes of eight RSA-related traits were evaluated in young seedlings using three different growth systems (i.e., paper roll, hydroponics and vermiculite), and then subjected to correlation analysis with N efficiency and P efficiency related traits measured under field conditions. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) of RSA were determined and QTL co-localizations across different growth systems were further analyzed. Phenotypic associations were observed for most of RSA traits among all three culture systems. RSA-related traits in hydroponics and vermiculite weakly correlated with Nitrogen (NupE) uptake efficiency (r = 0.17-0.31) and Phosphorus (PupE) uptake efficiency (r = 0.22-0.34). This correlation was not found in the paper roll growth system. A total of 14 QTLs for RSA were identified in paper rolls, 18 in hydroponics, and 14 in vermiculite. Co-localization of QTLs for RSA traits were identified in six chromosome regions of bin 1.04/1.05, 1.06, 2.04/2.05, 3.04, 4.05, and 5.04/5.05. The results suggest the problem of using the phenotype from one growth system to predict those in another growth system. Assessing RSA traits at the seedling stage using either hydroponics or a vermiculite system appears better suited than the paper roll system as an important index to accelerate the selection of high N and P efficient genotypes for maize breeding programs.

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