Journal of experimental botany

A rare SNP mutation in Brachytic2 moderately reduces plant height and increases yield potential in maize.

PMID 25922491


Plant height has long been an important agronomic trait in maize breeding. Many plant height QTLs have been reported, but few of these have been cloned. In this study, a major plant height QTL, qph1, was mapped to a 1.6kb interval in Brachytic2 (Br2) coding sequence on maize chromosome 1. A naturally occurring rare SNP in qph1, which resulted in an amino acid substitution, was validated as the causative mutation. QPH1 protein is located in the plasma membrane and polar auxin transport is impaired in the short near-isogenic line RIL88(qph1). Allelism testing showed that the SNP variant in qph1 reduces longitudinal cell number and decreases plant height by 20% in RIL88(qph1) compared to RIL88(QPH1), and is milder than known br2 mutant alleles. The effect of qph1 on plant height is significant and has no or a slight influence on yield in four F2 backgrounds and in six pairs of single-cross hybrids. Moreover, qph1 could reduce plant height when heterozygous, allowing it to be easily employed in maize breeding. Thus, a less-severe allele of a known dwarf mutant explains part of the quantitative variation for plant height and has great potential in maize improvement.