skip to main content

Title: The genetic architecture of teosinte catalyzed and constrained maize domestication

The process of evolution under domestication has been studied using phylogenetics, population genetics–genomics, quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping, gene expression assays, and archaeology. Here, we apply an evolutionary quantitative genetic approach to understand the constraints imposed by the genetic architecture of trait variation in teosinte, the wild ancestor of maize, and the consequences of domestication on genetic architecture. Using modern teosinte and maize landrace populations as proxies for the ancestor and domesticate, respectively, we estimated heritabilities, additive and dominance genetic variances, genetic-by-environment variances, genetic correlations, and genetic covariances for 18 domestication-related traits using realized genomic relationships estimated from genome-wide markers. We found a reduction in heritabilities across most traits, and the reduction is stronger in reproductive traits (size and numbers of grains and ears) than vegetative traits. We observed larger depletion in additive genetic variance than dominance genetic variance. Selection intensities during domestication were weak for all traits, with reproductive traits showing the highest values. For 17 of 18 traits, neutral divergence is rejected, suggesting they were targets of selection during domestication. Yield (total grain weight) per plant is the sole trait that selection does not appear to have improved in maize relative to teosinte. From a multivariate evolution perspective, more » we identified a strong, nonneutral divergence between teosinte and maize landrace genetic variance–covariance matrices (G-matrices). While the structure of G-matrix in teosinte posed considerable genetic constraint on early domestication, the maize landrace G-matrix indicates that the degree of constraint is more unfavorable for further evolution along the same trajectory.

« less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 5643-5652
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Very little is known about how domestication was constrained by the quantitative genetic architecture of crop progenitors and how quantitative genetic architecture was altered by domestication. Yang et al. [C. J. Yang et al. , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 116, 5643–5652 (2019)] drew multiple conclusions about how genetic architecture influenced and was altered by maize domestication based on one sympatric pair of teosinte and maize populations. To test the generality of their conclusions, we assayed the structure of genetic variances, genetic correlations among traits, strength of selection during domestication, and diversity in genetic architecture within teosinte and maize. Our results confirm that additive genetic variance is decreased, while dominance genetic variance is increased, during maize domestication. The genetic correlations are moderately conserved among traits between teosinte and maize, while the genetic variance–covariance matrices ( G -matrices) of teosinte and maize are quite different, primarily due to changes in the submatrix for reproductive traits. The inferred long-term selection intensities during domestication were weak, and the neutral hypothesis was rejected for reproductive and environmental response traits, suggesting that they were targets of selection during domestication. The G -matrix of teosinte imposed considerable constraint on selection during the early domestication process, andmore »constraint increased further along the domestication trajectory. Finally, we assayed variation among populations and observed that genetic architecture is generally conserved among populations within teosinte and maize but is radically different between teosinte and maize. While selection drove changes in essentially all traits between teosinte and maize, selection explains little of the difference in domestication traits among populations within teosinte or maize.« less
  2. INTRODUCTION During the independent process of cereal evolution, many trait shifts appear to have been under convergent selection to meet the specific needs of humans. Identification of convergently selected genes across cereals could help to clarify the evolution of crop species and to accelerate breeding programs. In the past several decades, researchers have debated whether convergent phenotypic selection in distinct lineages is driven by conserved molecular changes or by diverse molecular pathways. Two of the most economically important crops, maize and rice, display some conserved phenotypic shifts—including loss of seed dispersal, decreased seed dormancy, and increased grain number during evolution—even though they experienced independent selection. Hence, maize and rice can serve as an excellent system for understanding the extent of convergent selection among cereals. RATIONALE Despite the identification of a few convergently selected genes, our understanding of the extent of molecular convergence on a genome-wide scale between maize and rice is very limited. To learn how often selection acts on orthologous genes, we investigated the functions and molecular evolution of the grain yield quantitative trait locus KRN2 in maize and its rice ortholog OsKRN2 . We also identified convergently selected genes on a genome-wide scale in maize and rice, usingmore »two large datasets. RESULTS We identified a selected gene, KRN2 ( kernel row number2 ), that differs between domesticated maize and its wild ancestor, teosinte. This gene underlies a major quantitative trait locus for kernel row number in maize. Selection in the noncoding upstream regions resulted in a reduction of KRN2 expression and an increased grain number through an increase in kernel rows. The rice ortholog, OsKRN2 , also underwent selection and negatively regulates grain number via control of secondary panicle branches. These orthologs encode WD40 proteins and function synergistically with a gene of unknown function, DUF1644, which suggests that a conserved protein interaction controls grain number in maize and rice. Field tests show that knockout of KRN2 in maize or OsKRN2 in rice increased grain yield by ~10% and ~8%, respectively, with no apparent trade-off in other agronomic traits. This suggests potential applications of KRN2 and its orthologs for crop improvement. On a genome-wide scale, we identified a set of 490 orthologous genes that underwent convergent selection during maize and rice evolution, including KRN2/OsKRN2 . We found that the convergently selected orthologous genes appear to be significantly enriched in two specific pathways in both maize and rice: starch and sucrose metabolism, and biosynthesis of cofactors. A deep analysis of convergently selected genes in the starch metabolic pathway indicates that the degree of genetic convergence via convergent selection is related to the conservation and complexity of the gene network for a given selection. CONCLUSION Our findings show that common phenotypic shifts during maize and rice evolution acting on conserved genes are driven at least in part by convergent selection, which in maize and rice likely occurred both during and after domestication. We provide evolutionary and functional evidence on the convergent selection of KRN2/OsKRN2 for grain number between maize and rice. We further found that a complete loss-of-function allele of KRN2/OsKRN2 increased grain yield without an apparent negative impact on other agronomic traits. Exploring the role of KRN2/OsKRN2 and other convergently selected genes across the cereals could provide new opportunities to enhance the production of other global crops. Shared selected orthologous genes in maize and rice for convergent phenotypic shifts during domestication and improvement. By comparing 3163 selected genes in maize and 18,755 selected genes in rice, we identified 490 orthologous gene pairs, including KRN2 and its rice ortholog OsKRN2 , as having been convergently selected. Knockout of KRN2 in maize or OsKRN2 in rice increased grain yield by increasing kernel rows and secondary panicle branches, respectively.« less
  3. Walsh, Bruce (Ed.)
    Inbreeding depression is the reduction in fitness and vigor resulting from mating of close relatives observed in many plant and animal species. The extent to which the genetic load of mutations contributing to inbreeding depression is due to large-effect mutations versus variants with very small individual effects is unknown and may be affected by population history. We compared the effects of outcrossing and self-fertilization on 18 traits in a landrace population of maize, which underwent a population bottleneck during domestication, and a neighboring population of its wild relative teosinte. Inbreeding depression was greater in maize than teosinte for 15 of 18 traits, congruent with the greater segregating genetic load in the maize population that we predicted from sequence data. Parental breeding values were highly consistent between outcross and selfed offspring, indicating that additive effects determine most of the genetic value even in the presence of strong inbreeding depression. We developed a novel linkage scan to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) representing large-effect rare variants carried by only a single parent, which were more important in teosinte than maize. Teosinte also carried more putative juvenile-acting lethal variants identified by segregation distortion. These results suggest a mixture of mostly polygenic, small-effect partiallymore »recessive effects in linkage disequilibrium underlying inbreeding depression, with an additional contribution from rare larger-effect variants that was more important in teosinte but depleted in maize following the domestication bottleneck. Purging associated with the maize domestication bottleneck may have selected against some large effect variants, but polygenic load is harder to purge and overall segregating mutational burden increased in maize compared to teosinte.« less
  4. Abstract The domestication and improvement of maize resulted in radical changes in shoot architecture relative to its wild progenitor teosinte. In particular, critical modifications involved a reduction of branching and an increase in inflorescence size to meet the needs for human consumption and modern agricultural practices. Maize is a major contributor to global agricultural production by providing large and inexpensive quantities of food, animal feed, and ethanol. Maize is also a classic system for studying the genetic regulation of inflorescence formation and its enlarged female inflorescences directly influence seed production and yield. Studies on the molecular and genetic networks regulating meristem proliferation and maintenance, including receptor-ligand interactions, transcription factor regulation, and hormonal control, provide important insights into maize inflorescence development and reveal potential avenues for the targeted modification of specific architectural traits. In this review, we summarize recent findings on the molecular mechanisms controlling inflorescence formation and discuss how this knowledge can be applied to improve maize productivity in the face of present and future environmental challenges.
  5. The size and shape of carrot roots are the primary determinants not only of yield, but also market class. These quantitative phenotypes have historically been challenging to objectively evaluate, and thus subjective visual assessment of market class remains the primary method by which selection for these traits is performed. However, advancements in digital image analysis have recently made possible the high-throughput quantification of size and shape attributes. It is therefore now feasible to utilize modern methods of genetic analysis to investigate the genetic control of root morphology. To this end, this study utilized both genome wide association analysis (GWAS) and genomic-estimated breeding values (GEBVs) and demonstrated that the components of market class are highly polygenic traits, likely under the influence of many small effect QTL. Relatively large proportions of additive genetic variance for many of the component phenotypes support high predictive ability of GEBVs; average prediction ability across underlying market class traits was 0.67. GWAS identified multiple QTL for four of the phenotypes which compose market class: length, aspect ratio, maximum width, and root fill, a previously uncharacterized trait which represents the size-independent portion of carrot root shape. By combining digital image analysis with GWAS and GEBVs, this study representsmore »a novel advance in our understanding of the genetic control of market class in carrot. The immediate practical utility and viability of genomic selection for carrot market class is also described, and concrete guidelines for the design of training populations are provided.« less