The interaction of genotype and environment determines variation in the maize kernel ionome

Alexandra Asaro, Gregory Ziegler, Cathrine Ziyomo, Owen A. Hoekenga, Brian P. Dilkes, Ivan Baxter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Plants obtain soil-resident elements that support growth and metabolism from the water-flow facilitated by transpiration and active transport processes. The availability of elements in the environment interacts with the genetic capacity of organisms to modulate element uptake through plastic adaptive responses, such as homeostasis. These interactions should cause the elemental contents of plants to vary such that the effects of genetic polymorphisms will be dramatically dependent on the environment in which the plant is grown. To investigate genotype by environment interactions underlying elemental accumulation, we analyzed levels of elements in maize kernels of the Intermated B73 × Mo17 (IBM) recombinant inbred population grown in 10 different environments, spanning a total of six locations and five different years. In analyses conducted separately for each environment, we identified a total of 79 quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling seed elemental accumulation. While a set of these QTL was found in multiple environments, the majority were specific to a single environment, suggesting the presence of genetic by environment interactions. To specifically identify and quantify QTL by environment interactions (QEIs), we implemented two methods: linear modeling with environmental covariates, and QTL analysis on trait differences between growouts. With these approaches, we found several instances of QEI, indicating that elemental profiles are highly heritable, interrelated, and responsive to the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4175-4183
Number of pages9
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2016


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