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Genomic prediction of maize microphenotypes provides insights for optimizing selection and mining diversity

Xiaoqing Yu, Samuel Leiboff, Xianran Li, Tingting Guo, Natalie Ronning, Xiaoyu Zhang, Gary J. Muehlbauer, Marja C.P. Timmermans, Patrick S. Schnable, Michael J. Scanlon, Jianming Yu
Published: 26 May 2020
 by  Wiley
Plant Biotechnology Journal , Volume 18, pp 2456-2465; doi:10.1111/pbi.13420

Abstract: Effective evaluation of millions of crop genetic stocks is an essential component of exploiting genetic diversity to achieve global food security. By leveraging genomics and data analytics, genomic prediction is a promising strategy to efficiently explore the potential of these gene banks by starting with phenotyping a small designed subset. Reliable genomic predictions have enhanced selection of many macroscopic phenotypes in plants and animals. However, the use of genome prediction strategies for analysis of microscopic phenotypes is limited. Here, we exploited the power of genomic prediction for eight maize traits related to the shoot apical meristem (SAM), the microscopic stem cell niche that generates all the above‐ground organs of the plant. With 435,713 genome‐wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), we predicted SAM morphology traits for 2,687 diverse maize inbreds based on a model trained from 369 inbreds. An empirical validation experiment with 488 inbreds obtained a prediction accuracy of 0.37~0.57 across eight traits. In addition, we show that a significantly higher prediction accuracy was achieved by leveraging the U value (upper bound for reliability) that quantifies the genomic relationships of the validation set with the training set. Our findings suggest that double selection considering both prediction and reliability can be implemented in choosing selection candidates for phenotyping when exploring new diversity is desired. In this case, individuals with less extreme predicted values and moderate reliability values can be considered. Our study expands the turbocharging gene banks via genomic prediction from the macro‐phenotypes into the micro‐phenotypic space.
Keywords: genomics / genetic diversity / maize / plant breeding / genomic selection / genomic prediction / Gene Bank / shoot apical meristem / Micro‐phenotype

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