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Mining of Candidate Maize Genes for Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Integrating Gene Expression and QTL Data

Mining of Candidate Maize Genes for Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Integrating Gene Expression and QTL Data,10.1007/s11105-011-0346-x,Plant Molecular Biol

Mining of Candidate Maize Genes for Nitrogen Use Efficiency by Integrating Gene Expression and QTL Data  
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Breeding maize varieties for high nitrogen (N) use efficiency (NUE) by marker-assisted selection using NUE quantitative trait locus (QTL) or by genetic transfer of NUE-associated genes is a viable approach for increasing grain yield in N-limited production areas. In this investigation, we evaluated a set of introgression line populations under N supply and N deficiency conditions. From 42 QTLs for grain yield and yield components, 23 were identified under N supply conditions and 33 from N limited conditions. Meta-analysis of published maize NUE QTLs revealed 37 “consensus” QTLs, of which, 18 was detected under low N conditions. In addition, 258 unique ESTs associated with low N stress response, N uptake, transport, and assimilation were aligned on the maize genome by in silico mapping. Integrating the EST map with the QTL map has resulted in the identification of candidate NUE-associated genes of the following functional categories: N uptake, transport, and assimilation; carbon (C) metabolism and assimilation; and cascades of stress response and signal transduction genes. Nine candidates that have been introgressed into Ye478 significantly altered grain yield/yield components. It is suggested that the dynamics of interactions between C and N metabolism are important for maize yield. A high NUE variety should have a highly efficient C assimilation per unit N and actively express CO2 assimilation-related genes under N-limited conditions.
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