Quantitative trait loci for biofortification traits in maize grain

J Hered. Jan-Feb 2012;103(1):47-54. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esr122. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Detecting genes that influence biofortification traits in cereal grain could help increase the concentrations of bioavailable mineral elements in crops to solve the global mineral malnutrition problem. The aims of this study were to detect the quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for phosphorus (P), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), and magnesium (Mg) concentrations in maize grain in a mapping population, as well as QTLs for bioavailable Fe, Zn, and Mg, by precalculating their respective ratios with P. Elemental analysis of grain samples was done by coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry in 294 F(4) lines of a biparental population taken from field trials of over 3 years. The population was mapped using sets of 121 polymorphic markers. QTL analysis revealed 32 significant QTLs detected for 7 traits, of which some were colocalized. The Additive-dominant model revealed highly significant additive effects, suggesting that biofortification traits in maize are generally controlled by numerous small-effect QTLs. Three QTLs for Fe/P, Zn/P, and Mg/P were colocalized on chromosome 3, coinciding with simple sequence repeats marker bnlg1456, which resides in close proximity to previously identified phytase genes (ZM phys1 and phys2). Thus, we recommend the ratios as bioavailability traits in biofortification research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 6-Phytase / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Edible Grain / genetics*
  • Edible Grain / metabolism
  • Iron / metabolism
  • Lod Score
  • Magnesium / metabolism
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorus / metabolism
  • Phytic Acid / metabolism
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Trace Elements / metabolism*
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / metabolism
  • Zinc / metabolism


  • Trace Elements
  • Phosphorus
  • Phytic Acid
  • Iron
  • 6-Phytase
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc