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Research article2004Peer reviewedOpen access

The inheritance and evolution of leaf pigmentation and pubescence in teosinte

Lauter N, Gustus C, Westerbergh A, Doebley J


To investigate the genetic mechanisms that underlie morphological evolution in natural populations, we employed QTL mapping to dissect the inheritance of leaf sheath characters that distinguish Chalco from Balsas teosinte. Abundant macrohairs (trichomes) and intense anthocyanin accumulation are found in Chalco teosinte sheaths whereas Balsas teosinte leaf sheaths are green and glabrous. These character states may represent adaptations to the cooler highland (Chalco) vs. warmer middle-elevation (Balsas) climates. QTL mapping in multiple populations revealed a mix of major- and minor-effect QTL affecting both sheath color (anthocyanin) and macrohair abundance. The major QTL for macrohairs accounts for 52% of the parental difference. Epistatic interactions were detected between the major-effect QTL and multiple other QTL for both traits, accounting for substantial portions of phenotypic variance. Developmental analyses suggest that regulatory program changes underlie the phenotypic differences. Sheath anthocyanin QTL are clearly associated with b1 and a3, both of which are regulators of anthocyanin biosynthesis. Our findings suggest that changes in a small number of QTL can lead to morphological evolution by modulating existing developmental programs

Published in

2004, Volume: 167, number: 4, pages: 1949-1959 Publisher: GENETICS

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science
    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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