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Characterizing allele-by-environment interactions using maize introgression lines

By Zhi Li, Sara B. Tirado, Dnyaneshwar C Kadam, Lisa Coffey, Nathan D Miller, Edgar P. Spalding, Aaron J Lorenz, Natalia de Leon, Shawn M. Kaeppler, Patrick S Schnable, Nathan Springer, Candice Hirsch

Posted 16 Aug 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/738070

Relatively small genomic introgressions containing quantitative trait loci can have significant impacts on the phenotype of an individual plant. However, the magnitude of phenotypic effects for the same introgression can vary quite substantially in different environments due to allele-by-environment interactions. To study potential patterns of allele-by-environment interactions, fifteen near-isogenic lines (NILs) with >90% B73 genetic background and multiple Mo17 introgressions were grown in 16 different environments. These environments included five geographical locations with multiple planting dates and multiple planting densities. The phenotypic impact of the introgressions was evaluated for up to 26 traits that span different growth stages in each environment to assess allele-by-environment interactions. Results from this study showed that small portions of the genome can drive significant genotype-by-environment interaction across a wide range of vegetative and reproductive traits, and the magnitude of the allele-by-environment interaction varies across traits. Some introgressed segments were more prone to genotype-by-environment interaction than others when evaluating the interaction on a whole plant basis throughout developmental time, indicating variation in phenotypic plasticity throughout the genome. Understanding the profile of allele-by-environment interaction is useful in considerations of how small introgressions of QTL or transgene containing regions might be expected to impact traits in diverse environments.

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