Aluminum tolerance mechanisms in Kenyan maize germplasm are independent from the citrate transporter ZmMATE1

Abstract

Aluminum (Al) toxicity on acid soils adversely affects maize yields, which can be overcome by combining soil amendments with genetic tolerance. In maize, ZmMATE1 confers Al tolerance via Al-activated citrate release, whereby citrate forms non-toxic complexes with Al3+ in the rhizosphere. Here, we investigated Al tolerance mechanisms in maize germplasm originated from Kenya based on quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping. Five QTLs and four epistatic interactions explained ~51% of the phenotypic variation for Al tolerance. The lack of Al tolerance QTL on chromosome 6 and the much lower expression of ZmMATE1 in both Kenyan lines than in Cateto Al237, which donates the superior allele of ZmMATE1, strongly indicate that this gene does not play a significant role in Al tolerance in neither parent. In turn, maize homologs to genes previously implicated in Al tolerance in other species, ZmNrat1, ZmMATE3, ZmWRKY and ZmART1, co-localized with Al tolerance QTL and were more highly expressed in the parent that donate favorable QTL alleles. However, these candidate genes will require further studies for functional validation on maize Al tolerance. The existence of Al tolerance mechanisms independent from ZmMATE1 suggests it is possible to develop highly Al tolerant cultivars by pyramiding complementary Al tolerance genes in maize.

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Keywords

Aluminium tolerance, maize germplasm, citrate transporter ZmMATE1

Citation

Matonyei, T. K., Barros, B. A., Guimaraes, R. G., Ouma, E. O., Cheprot, R. K., Apolinário, L. C., ... & Guimaraes, C. T. (2020). Aluminum tolerance mechanisms in Kenyan maize germplasm are independent from the citrate transporter ZmMATE1. Scientific reports, 10(1), 7320.