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The genetic basis of natural variation for iron homeostasis in the maize IBM population

Andreas Benke1, Claude Urbany1, Johanna Marsian1, Rongli Shi2, Nicolaus von Wirén2 and Benjamin Stich1*

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-Linné Weg 10, 50829 Köln, Germany

2 Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Corrensstraße 3, 06466 Gatersleben, Germany

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BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-12

Published: 9 January 2014



Iron (Fe) deficiency symptoms in maize (Zea mays subsp. mays) express as leaf chlorosis, growth retardation, as well as yield reduction and are typically observed when plants grow in calcareous soils at alkaline pH. To improve our understanding of genotypical variability in the tolerance to Fe deficiency-induced chlorosis, the objectives of this study were to (i) determine the natural genetic variation of traits related to Fe homeostasis in the maize intermated B73 × Mo17 (IBM) population, (ii) to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for these traits, and (iii) to analyze expression levels of genes known to be involved in Fe homeostasis as well as of candidate genes obtained from the QTL analysis.


In hydroponically-grown maize, a total of 47 and 39 QTLs were detected for the traits recorded under limited and adequate supply of Fe, respectively.


From the QTL results, we were able to identify new putative candidate genes involved in Fe homeostasis under a deficient or adequate Fe nutritional status, like Ferredoxin class gene, putative ferredoxin PETF, metal tolerance protein MTP4, and MTP8. Furthermore, our expression analysis of candidate genes suggested the importance of trans-acting regulation for 2’-deoxymugineic acid synthase 1 (DMAS1), nicotianamine synthase (NAS3, NAS1), formate dehydrogenase 1 (FDH1), methylthioribose-1-phosphate isomerase (IDI2), aspartate/tyrosine/aromatic aminotransferase (IDI4), and methylthioribose kinase (MTK).