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A new allele of the Brachytic2 gene in maize can efficiently modify plant architecture

Heredityvolume 121pages7586 (2018) | Download Citation


The applications of semi-dwarf genes such as sd1 and Rht1 in rice and wheat resulted in the first “green revolution” in the 1960s. However, such semi-dwarf genes that can efficiently reduce plant stature and have few negative yield traits have not yet been identified in maize. In this study, a new allele of Brachytic2 gene (qpa1) encoding P-glycoprotein was rapidly fine-mapped using a modified method. The qpa1, containing a 241-bp deletion in the last exon, had no negative effect on yield, but greatly modified the plant architecture including significantly reduced plant height and ear height, increased stalk diameter and erected leaf. A common variant similar to maize qpa1 was also present in the sorghum orthologous dw3 locus. Comparative RNA-seq analysis next showed 99 differentially co-expressed genes affected by Br2 in maize and dw3 in sorghum, including four plant height genes D3, BAK1, Actin7 and Csld1, which are involved in gibberellin and brassinosteroid biosynthesis, auxin transport and cellulose synthesis. The qpa1 can be applied to efficiently modify plant stature in maize and in combination with D3, BAK1, Actin7, Csld1 and the other 95 differentially co-expressed genes, can be edited using new genomic editing tools for further applications and studies.

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Additional information

Data archiving The raw RNA-seq data for this study have been submitted to the NCBI Sequence Read Archive (SRA) under accession no. SRP076433. The authors state that all data necessary for confirming the conclusions presented in the article are presented fully within the article.

Accession numbers Sequence Data was deposited in Genbank with the accession numbers MG256511 and MG256512.


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This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (91735305 and 91335108 to Z.L.), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0101803 to Z.L.) and Chinese Thousand Youth Talents Program.

Author contributions

ZL designed research. WL, XZ, ZZ, and HL conducted the research. WL, XZ, ZZ, HL, and ZL analyzed the data. LW and ZL wrote the manuscript.

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  1. These authors contributed equally: Lai Wei, Xuan Zhang


  1. National Maize Improvement Center; Department of Plant Genetics and Breeding, China Agricultural University, Beijing, 100193, China

    • Lai Wei
    • , Xuan Zhang
    • , Zhihai Zhang
    • , Huanhuan Liu
    •  & Zhongwei Lin


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Zhongwei Lin.

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