Identification of quantitative trait loci for nitrogen use efficiency in maize

H. A.S. Agrama*, A. G. Zakaria, F. B. Said, M. Tuinstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

146 Citations (Scopus)


Intensively managed crop systems are normally dependent on nitrogen input to maximize yield potential. Improvements in nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE) in crop plants may support the development of cropping systems that are more economically efficient and environment friendly. The objective of this study was to map and characterize quantitative trait loci (QTL) for NUE in a maize population. In preliminary experiments, inbred lines contrasting for NUE were identified and were used to generate populations of F(2:3) families for genetic study. A total of 214 F(2:3) families were evaluated in replicated trials under high nitrogen (280 kg/ha) and low nitrogen (30 kg/ha) conditions in 1996 and 1997. Analysis of ear-leaf area, plant height, grain yield, ears per plant, kernels number per ear, and kernel weight indicated significant genetic variation among F(2:3) families. The heritability of these traits was found to be high (h2 = 0.57-0.81). The mapping population were genotyped using a set of 99 restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) markers. A linkage map of these markers was developed and used to identify QTL. Between two and six loci were found to be associated with each trait. The correspondence of several genomic regions with traits measured under nitrogen limited conditions suggests the presence of QTL associated with NUE. QTLs will help breeders to improve their maize ideotype of a low-nitrogen efficiency by identifying those constitutive and adaptive traits involved in the expression of traits significantly correlated with yield, such as ear leaf area and number of ears per plant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-195
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Breeding
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999


  • Gene mapping
  • Low nitrogen tolerance
  • Nitrogen use efficiency
  • RFLP
  • Zea mays L.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


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