Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



G3, Volume 5, April 2015, pp. 541


Copyright © 2015 Lorenz et al.


Maize silage is forage of high quality and yield, and represents the second most important use of maize in the United States. The Wisconsin Quality Synthetic (WQS) maize population has undergone five cycles of recurrent selection for silage yield and composition, resulting in a genetically improved population. The application of high-density molecular markers allows breeders and geneticists to identify important loci through association analysis and selection mapping, as well as to monitor changes in the distribution of genetic diversity across the genome. The objectives of this study were to identify loci controlling variation for maize silage traits through association analysis and the assessment of selection signatures and to describe changes in the genomic distribution of gene diversity through selection and genetic drift in theWQS recurrent selection program. We failed to find any significant marker-trait associations using the historical phenotypic data from WQS breeding trials combined with 17,719 high-quality, informative single nucleotide polymorphisms. Likewise, no strong genomic signatures were left by selection on silage yield and quality in the WQS despite genetic gain for these traits. These results could be due to the genetic complexity underlying these traits, or the role of selection on standing genetic variation. Variation in loss of diversity through drift was observed across the genome. Some large regions experienced much greater loss in diversity than what is expected, suggesting limited recombination combined with small populations in recurrent selection programs could easily lead to fixation of large swaths of the genome.