Heterotic patterns of sugar and amino acid components in developing maize kernels

Lilla Römisch-Margl, Gertraud Spielbauer, Andre Schützenmeister, Wilfried Schwab, Hans Peter Piepho, Ulrich Genschel, Alfons Gierl

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22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Heterosis is the superior performance of hybrids over their inbred parents. Despite its importance, little is known about the genetic and molecular basis of this phenomenon. Heterosis has been extensively exploited in plant breeding, particularly in maize (Zea mays, L.), and is well documented in the B73 and Mo17 maize inbred lines and their F1 hybrids. In this study, we determined the dry matter, the levels of starch and protein components and a total of 24 low-molecular weight metabolites including sugars, sugar-phosphates, and free amino acids, in developing maize kernels between 8 and 30 days post-pollination (DPP) of the hybrid B73 × Mo17 and its parental lines. The tissue specificity of amino acid and protein content was investigated between 16 and 30 DPP. Key observations include: (1) most of the significant differences in the investigated tissue types occurred between Mo17 and the other two genotypes; (2) heterosis of dry matter and metabolite content was detectable from the early phase of kernel development onwards; (3) the majority of metabolites exhibited an additive pattern. Nearly 10% of the metabolites exhibited nonadditive effects such as overdominance, underdominance, and high-parent and low-parent dominance; (4) The metabolite composition was remarkably dependent on kernel age, and this large developmental effect could possibly mask genotypic differences; (5) the metabolite profiles and the heterotic patterns are specific for endosperm and embryo. Our findings illustrate the power of metabolomics to characterize heterotic maize lines and suggest that the metabolite composition is a potential marker in the context of heterosis research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
Number of pages13
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
Volume120
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2010

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