Genome biology

Correlation analysis of the transcriptome of growing leaves with mature leaf parameters in a maize RIL population.

PMID 26357925


To sustain the global requirements for food and renewable resources, unraveling the molecular networks underlying plant growth is becoming pivotal. Although several approaches to identify genes and networks involved in final organ size have been proven successful, our understanding remains fragmentary. Here, we assessed variation in 103 lines of the Zea mays B73xH99 RIL population for a set of final leaf size and whole shoot traits at the seedling stage, complemented with measurements capturing growth dynamics, and cellular measurements. Most traits correlated well with the size of the division zone, implying that the molecular basis of final leaf size is already defined in dividing cells of growing leaves. Therefore, we searched for association between the transcriptional variation in dividing cells of the growing leaf and final leaf size and seedling biomass, allowing us to identify genes and processes correlated with the specific traits. A number of these genes have a known function in leaf development. Additionally, we illustrated that two independent mechanisms contribute to final leaf size, maximal growth rate and the duration of growth. Untangling complex traits such as leaf size by applying in-depth phenotyping allows us to define the relative contributions of the components and their mutual associations, facilitating dissection of the biological processes and regulatory networks underneath.

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