A study of allelic diversity underlying flowering-time adaptation in maize landraces

Nat Genet. 2017 Mar;49(3):476-480. doi: 10.1038/ng.3784. Epub 2017 Feb 6.


Landraces (traditional varieties) of domesticated species preserve useful genetic variation, yet they remain untapped due to the genetic linkage between the few useful alleles and hundreds of undesirable alleles. We integrated two approaches to characterize the diversity of 4,471 maize landraces. First, we mapped genomic regions controlling latitudinal and altitudinal adaptation and identified 1,498 genes. Second, we used F-one association mapping (FOAM) to map the genes that control flowering time, across 22 environments, and identified 1,005 genes. In total, we found that 61.4% of the single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with altitude were also associated with flowering time. More than half of the SNPs associated with altitude were within large structural variants (inversions, centromeres and pericentromeric regions). The combined mapping results indicate that although floral regulatory network genes contribute substantially to field variation, over 90% of the contributing genes probably have indirect effects. Our dual strategy can be used to harness the landrace diversity of plants and animals.

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / genetics
  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Alleles
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods
  • Flowers / genetics*
  • Genetic Linkage / genetics
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics*
  • Zea mays / genetics*