J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2016, Vol. 58 ›› Issue (8): 713-723.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12455

• Functional Omics and Systems Biology • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Transcriptome analysis of near-isogenic lines provides molecular insights into starch biosynthesis in maize kernel

Yingni Xiao1, Shawn Thatcher2, Min Wang1,3, Tingting Wang1, Mary Beatty4, Gina Zastrow-Hayes4, Lin Li5, Jiansheng Li1, Bailin Li2 and Xiaohong Yang1*   

  1. 1National Maize Improvement Center of China, Beijing Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
    2DuPont Pioneer, 200 Powder Mill Road, Wilmington, DE 19880, USA
    3College of Agronomy, Northwest Agricultural and Forest University, Yang Ling 712100, China
    4DuPont Pioneer, Johnston, Iowa 50131, USA
    5Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA
  • Received:2015-08-04 Accepted:2015-12-14 Published:2015-12-17
  • About author:*Correspondence: E-mail: yxiaohong@cau.edu.cn


Starch is the major component in maize kernels, providing a stable carbohydrate source for humans and livestock as well as raw material for the biofuel industry. Increasing maize kernel starch content will help meet industry demands and has the potential to increase overall yields. We developed a pair of maize near-isogenic lines (NILs) with different alleles for a starch quantitative trait locus on chromosome 3 (qHS3), resulting in different kernel starch content. To investigate the candidate genes for qHS3 and elucidate their effects on starch metabolism, RNA-Seq was performed for the developing kernels of the NILs at 14 and 21 d after pollination (DAP). Analysis of genomic and transcriptomic data identified 76 genes with nonsynonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms and 384 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the introgressed fragment, including a hexokinase gene, ZmHXK3a, which catalyzes the conversion of glucose to glucose-6-phosphate and may play a key role in starch metabolism. The expression pattern of all DEGs in starch metabolism shows that altered expression of the candidate genes for qHS3 promoted starch synthesis, with positive consequences for kernel starch content. These results expand the current understanding of starch biosynthesis and accumulation in maize kernels and provide potential candidate genes to increase starch content.

Key words: Coexpression network, maize, quantitative trait loci, RNA-Seq, starch content

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