Evaluation of ZmCCT haplotypes for genetic improvement of maize hybrids
The elite ZmCCT haplotypes which have no transposable element in the promoter could enhance maize resistance to Gibberella stalk rot and improve yield-related traits, while having no or mild impact on flowering time. Therefore, they are expected to have great value in future maize breeding programs.
A CCT domain-containing gene, ZmCCT, is involved in both photoperiod response and stalk rot resistance in maize. At least 15 haplotypes are present at the ZmCCT locus in maize germplasm, whereas only three of them are found in Chinese commercial maize hybrids. Here, we evaluated ZmCCT haplotypes for their potential application in corn breeding. Nine resistant ZmCCT haplotypes that have no CACTA-like transposable element in the promoter were introduced into seven elite maize inbred lines by marker-assisted backcrossing. The resultant 63 converted lines had 0.7-5.1 Mb of resistant ZmCCT donor segments with over 90% recovery rates. All converted lines tested exhibited enhanced resistance to maize stalk rot but varied in photoperiod sensitivity. There was a close correlation between the hybrids and their parental lines with respect to both resistance performance and photoperiod sensitivity. Furthermore, in a given hybrid A5302/83B28, resistant ZmCCT haplotype could largely improve yield-related traits, such as ear length and 100-kernel weight, resulting in enhanced grain yield. Of nine resistant ZmCCT haplotypes, haplotype H5 exhibited excellent performance for both flowering time and stalk rot resistance and is thus expected to have potential value in future maize breeding programs.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-017-2978-1
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