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Genomic Selection For Drought Tolerance Using Genome-Wide SNPs In Maize

Mittal Shikha, A. Kanika, A. R. Rao, M. G. Mallikarjuna, H. S. Gupta, T. Nepolean
Published 2017 · Biology, Medicine

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Traditional breeding strategies for selecting superior genotypes depending on phenotypic traits have proven to be of limited success, as this direct selection is hindered by low heritability, genetic interactions such as epistasis, environmental-genotype interactions, and polygenic effects. With the advent of new genomic tools, breeders have paved a way for selecting superior breeds. Genomic selection (GS) has emerged as one of the most important approaches for predicting genotype performance. Here, we tested the breeding values of 240 maize subtropical lines phenotyped for drought at different environments using 29,619 cured SNPs. Prediction accuracies of seven genomic selection models (ridge regression, LASSO, elastic net, random forest, reproducing kernel Hilbert space, Bayes A and Bayes B) were tested for their agronomic traits. Though prediction accuracies of Bayes B, Bayes A and RKHS were comparable, Bayes B outperformed the other models by predicting highest Pearson correlation coefficient in all three environments. From Bayes B, a set of the top 1053 significant SNPs with higher marker effects was selected across all datasets to validate the genes and QTLs. Out of these 1053 SNPs, 77 SNPs associated with 10 drought-responsive transcription factors. These transcription factors were associated with different physiological and molecular functions (stomatal closure, root development, hormonal signaling and photosynthesis). Of several models, Bayes B has been shown to have the highest level of prediction accuracy for our data sets. Our experiments also highlighted several SNPs based on their performance and relative importance to drought tolerance. The result of our experiments is important for the selection of superior genotypes and candidate genes for breeding drought-tolerant maize hybrids.
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