The genetic basis of haploid induction in maize identified with a novel genome-wide association method

Hu, H., Schrag, T., Peis, R., Unterseer, S., Schipprack, W., Chen, S., . . . Melchinger, A. (2016). The Genetic Basis of Haploid Induction in Maize Identified with a Novel Genome-Wide Association Method. Genetics, 202(4). DOI: 10.1534/genetics.115.184234


In vivo haploid induction (HI) triggered by pollination with special intraspecific genotypes, called inducers, is unique to Zea mays L. within the plant kingdom and has revolutionized maize breeding during the last decade. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying HI in maize are still unclear. To investigate the genetic basis of HI, we developed a new approach for genome-wide association studies (GWAS), termed conditional haplotype extension (CHE) test that allows detection of selective sweeps even under almost perfect confounding of population structure and trait expression. Here, we applied this test to identify genomic regions required for HI expression and dissected the combined support interval (50.34 Mb) of the QTL qhir1, detected in a previous study, into two closely linked genomic segments relevant for HI expression. The first, termed qhir11 (0.54 Mb), comprises an already fine-mapped region but was not diagnostic for differentiating inducers and noninducers. The second segment, termed qhir12 (3.97 Mb), had a haplotype allele common to all 53 inducer lines but not found in any of the 1482 noninducers. By comparing resequencing data of one inducer with 14 noninducers, we detected in the qhir12 region three candidate genes involved in DNA or amino acid binding, however, none for qhir11. We propose that the CHE test can be utilized in introgression breeding and different fields of genetics to detect selective sweeps in heterogeneous genetic backgrounds.