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Combined linkage and association mapping reveal QTL for host plant resistance to common rust (Puccinia sorghi) in tropical maize

Background
Common rust, caused by Puccinia sorghi, is an important foliar disease of maize that has been associated with up to 50% grain yield loss. Development of resistant maize germplasm is the ideal strategy to combat P. sorghi.

Results
Association mapping performed using a mixed linear model (MLM), integrating population structure and family relatedness identified 25 QTL (P < 3.12 × 10− 5) that were associated with resistance to common rust and distributed on chromosomes 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 10. We identified three QTLs associated with all three disease parameters (final disease rating, mean disease rating, and area under disease progress curve) located on chromosomes 1, 3, and 8. A total of 5 QTLs for resistance to common rust were identified in the RIL population. Nine candidate genes located on chromosomes 1, 5, 6, 8, and 10 for resistance to common rust associated loci were identified through detailed annotation. Conclusions Using a diverse set of inbred lines genotyped with high density markers and evaluated for common rust resistance in multiple environments, it was possible to identify QTL significantly associated with resistance to common rust and several candidate genes. The results point to the need for fine mapping common rust resistance by targeting regions identified in common between this study and others using diverse germplasm.