Discovery of beneficial haplotypes for complex traits in maize landraces

Manfred Mayer, Armin C. Hölker, Eric González-Segovia, Eva Bauer, Thomas Presterl, Milena Ouzunova, Albrecht E. Melchinger, Chris Carolin Schön

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Genetic variation is of crucial importance for crop improvement. Landraces are valuable sources of diversity, but for quantitative traits efficient strategies for their targeted utilization are lacking. Here, we map haplotype-trait associations at high resolution in ~1000 doubled-haploid lines derived from three maize landraces to make their native diversity for early development traits accessible for elite germplasm improvement. A comparative genomic analysis of the discovered haplotypes in the landrace-derived lines and a panel of 65 breeding lines, both genotyped with 600k SNPs, points to untapped beneficial variation for target traits in the landraces. The superior phenotypic performance of lines carrying favorable landrace haplotypes as compared to breeding lines with alternative haplotypes confirms these findings. Stability of haplotype effects across populations and environments as well as their limited effects on undesired traits indicate that our strategy has high potential for harnessing beneficial haplotype variation for quantitative traits from genetic resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4954
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


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