Gibberellins promote brassinosteroids action and both increase heterosis for plant height in Maize (Zea mays L.)

Songlin Hu, Cuiling Wang, Darlene L. Sanchez, Alexander E. Lipka, Peng Liu, Yanhai Yin, Michael Blanco, Thomas Lübberstedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Brassinosteroids (BRs) and Gibberellins (GAs) are two classes of plant hormones affecting plant height (PHT). Thus, manipulation of BR and GA levels or signaling enables optimization of crop grain and biomass yields. We established backcross (BC) families, selected for increased PHT, in two elite maize inbred backgrounds. Various exotic accessions used in the germplasm enhancement in maize project served as donors. BC1-derived doubled haploid lines in the same two elite maize inbred backgrounds established without selection for plant height were included for comparison. We conducted genome-wide association studies to explore the genetic control of PHT by BR and GA. In addition, we used BR and GA inhibitors to compare the relationship between PHT, BR, and GA in inbred lines and heterozygotes from a physiological and biological perspective. A total of 73 genomic loci were discovered to be associated with PHT, with seven co-localized with GA, and two co-localized with BR candidate genes. PHT determined in field trials was significantly correlated with seedling stage BR and GA inhibitor responses. However, this observation was only true for maize heterozygotes, not for inbred lines. Path analysis results suggest that heterozygosity increases GA levels, which in turn promote BR levels. Thus, at least part of heterosis for PHT in maize can be explained by increased GA and BR levels, and seedling stage hormone inhibitor response is promising to predict heterosis for PHT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1039
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - Jun 20 2017


  • Brassinosteroid
  • Genome-wide association study
  • Gibberellin
  • Heterosis
  • Plant height

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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