Dominance Effects and Functional Enrichments Improve Prediction of Agronomic Traits in Hybrid Maize


Single-cross hybrids have been critical to the improvement of maize (Zea mays L.), but the characterization of their genetic architectures remains challenging. Previous studies of hybrid maize have shown the contribution of within-locus complementation effects (dominance) and their differential importance across functional classes of loci. However, they have generally considered panels of limited genetic diversity, and have shown little benefit from genomic prediction based on dominance or functional enrichments. This study investigates the relevance of dominance and functional classes of variants in genomic models for agronomic traits in diverse populations of hybrid maize. We based our analyses on a diverse panel of inbred lines crossed with two testers representative of the major heterotic groups in the U.S. (1106 hybrids), as well as a collection of 24 biparental populations crossed with a single tester (1640 hybrids). We investigated three agronomic traits: days to silking (DTS), plant height (PH), and grain yield (GY). Our results point to the presence of dominance for all traits, but also among-locus complementation (epistasis) for DTS and genotype-by-environment interactions for GY. Consistently, dominance improved genomic prediction for PH only. In addition, we assessed enrichment of genetic effects in classes defined by genic regions (gene annotation), structural features (recombination rate and chromatin openness), and evolutionary features (minor allele frequency and evolutionary constraint). We found support for enrichment in genic regions and subsequent improvement of genomic prediction for all traits. Our results suggest that dominance and gene annotations improve genomic prediction across diverse populations in hybrid maize.




Guillaume P Ramstein, Sara J Larsson, Jason P Cook, Jode W Edwards, Elhan S Ersoz, Sherry Flint-Garcia, Candice A Gardner, James B Holland, Aaron J Lorenz, Michael D McMullen, Mark J Millard, Torbert R Rocheford, Mitchell R Tuinstra, Peter J Bradbury, Edward S Buckler, M Cinta Romay, Dominance Effects and Functional Enrichments Improve Prediction of Agronomic Traits in Hybrid Maize, Genetics, Volume 215, Issue 1, 1 May 2020, Pages 215–230, doi: 10.1534/genetics.120.303025
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