The genetic architecture of teosinte catalyzed and constrained maize domestication

Chin Jian Yang, Luis Fernando Samayoa, Peter J Bradbury, Bode A Olukolu, Wei Xue, Alessandra M York, Michael R Tuholski, Weidong Wang, Lora L Daskalska, Michael A Neumeyer, Jose de Jesus Sanchez-Gonzalez, Maria Cinta Romay, Jeffrey C Glaubitz, Qi Sun, Edward S Buckler, James B Holland, John F Doebley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


The process of evolution under domestication has been studied using phylogenetics, population genetics–genomics, quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, gene expression assays, and archaeology. Here, we apply an evolutionary quantitative genetic approach to understand the constraints imposed by the genetic architecture of trait variation in teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize, and the consequences of domestication on genetic architecture. Using modern teosinte and maize landrace populations as proxies for the ancestor and domesticate, respectively, we estimated heritabilities, additive and dominance genetic variances, genetic-by-environment variances, genetic correlations, and genetic covariances for 18 domestication-related traits using realized genomic relationships estimated from genome-wide markers. We found a reduction in heritabilities across most traits, and the reduction is stronger in reproductive traits (size and numbers of grains and ears) than vegetative traits. We observed larger depletion in additive genetic variance than dominance genetic variance. Selection intensities during domestication were weak for all traits, with reproductive traits showing the highest values. For 17 of 18 traits, neutral divergence is rejected, suggesting they were targets of selection during domestication. Yield (total grain weight) per plant is the sole trait that selection does not appear to have improved in maize relative to teosinte. From a multivariate evolution perspective, we identified a strong, nonneutral divergence between teosinte and maize landrace genetic variance–covariance matrices (G-matrices). While the structure of G-matrix in teosinte posed considerable genetic constraint on early domestication, the maize landrace G-matrix indicates that the degree of constraint is more unfavorable for further evolution along the same trajectory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5643-5652
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
Early online date6 Mar 2019
Publication statusPrint publication - 19 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.


  • Agriculture
  • Chromosome Mapping/methods
  • Chromosomes, Plant/physiology
  • Domestication
  • Edible Grain/genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetics, Population/methods
  • Genomics
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Proteins/genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Selection, Genetic/genetics
  • Zea mays/genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'The genetic architecture of teosinte catalyzed and constrained maize domestication'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this