Mapping prolificacy QTL in maize and teosinte

Liyan Yang, Chin Jian Yang, Qi Cheng, Wei Xue, John F Doebley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

2 Citations (Scopus)


Teosinte, the ancestor of maize, possesses multiple ears at each node along its main stalk, whereas maize has only a single ear at each node. With its greater ear number, teosinte is referred to as being more prolific. The grassy tillers 1 (gt1) gene has been identified as a large-effect quantitative trait locus underlying this prolificacy difference between maize and teosinte, and the causal polymorphism for the difference was mapped to a 2.7kb control region 5′ of the gt1 ORF. The most common maize haplotype (M1) at the gt1 control region confers low prolificacy. A prior study reported that 29% of maize varieties possess the teosinte haplotype (T) for the control region, although these varieties are nonprolific. This observation suggested that these maize lines might possess an additional factor, other than gt1, suppressing prolificacy in maize. We discovered that the factor suppressing prolificacy in maize varieties with the gt1 T haplotype mapped to a 3.20 cM interval, which includes gt1. Subsequent DNA sequence analysis revealed that the maize varieties with the apparent T haplotype actually possess a distinct maize haplotype (M2) that is similar, but not identical, to the T haplotype in sequence but is associated with a nonprolific phenotype similar to the M1 haplotype. Our data indicate that the M2 haplotype or a closely linked factor confers a nonprolific phenotype. Our data suggest that 2 different alleles or haplotypes (M1 and M2) of gt1 were selected during domestication, and that nonprolificacy in all maize varieties is likely a result of allele substitutions at gt1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-678
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Heredity
Issue number7
Early online date22 Sept 2016
Publication statusFirst published - 22 Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Mapping prolificacy QTL in maize and teosinte'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this