High-Throughput Phenotyping and QTL Mapping Reveals the Genetic Architecture of Maize Plant Growth

Plant Physiol. 2017 Mar;173(3):1554-1564. doi: 10.1104/pp.16.01516. Epub 2017 Jan 30.


With increasing demand for novel traits in crop breeding, the plant research community faces the challenge of quantitatively analyzing the structure and function of large numbers of plants. A clear goal of high-throughput phenotyping is to bridge the gap between genomics and phenomics. In this study, we quantified 106 traits from a maize (Zea mays) recombinant inbred line population (n = 167) across 16 developmental stages using the automatic phenotyping platform. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping with a high-density genetic linkage map, including 2,496 recombinant bins, was used to uncover the genetic basis of these complex agronomic traits, and 988 QTLs have been identified for all investigated traits, including three QTL hotspots. Biomass accumulation and final yield were predicted using a combination of dissected traits in the early growth stage. These results reveal the dynamic genetic architecture of maize plant growth and enhance ideotype-based maize breeding and prediction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomass
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Chromosomes, Plant / genetics*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Genomics / methods
  • Genotype
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Breeding / methods
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*
  • Zea mays / growth & development