Distinct genetic architectures for male and female inflorescence traits of maize

Patrick J. Brown, Narasimham Upadyayula, Gregory S. Mahone, Feng Tian, Peter J. Bradbury, Sean Myles, James B. Holland, Sherry Flint-Garcia, Michael D. McMullen, Edward S. Buckler, Torbert R. Rocheford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compared the genetic architecture of thirteen maize morphological traits in a large population of recombinant inbred lines. Four traits from the male inflorescence (tassel) and three traits from the female inflorescence (ear) were measured and studied using linkage and genome-wide association analyses and compared to three flowering and three leaf traits previously studied in the same population. Inflorescence loci have larger effects than flowering and leaf loci, and ear effects are larger than tassel effects. Ear trait models also have lower predictive ability than tassel, flowering, or leaf trait models. Pleiotropic loci were identified that control elongation of ear and tassel, consistent with their common developmental origin. For these pleiotropic loci, the ear effects are larger than tassel effects even though the same causal polymorphisms are likely involved. This implies that the observed differences in genetic architecture are not due to distinct features of the underlying polymorphisms. Our results support the hypothesis that genetic architecture is a function of trait stability over evolutionary time, since the traits that changed most during the relatively recent domestication of maize have the largest effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1002383
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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