Haplotype structure in commercial maize breeding programs in relation to key founder lines

Coffman, Stephanie
Hufford, Matthew
Andorf, Carson
Lubberstedt, Thomas
Lubberstedt, Thomas
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AgronomyEcology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

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High-density haplotype analysis revealed significant haplotype sharing between ex-PVPs registered from 1976 to 1992 and key maize founders, and uncovered similarities and differences in haplotype sharing patterns by company and heterotic group.


Proprietary inbreds developed by the private seed industry have been the major source for driving genetic gain in successful North American maize hybrids for decades. Much of the history of industry germplasm can be traced back to key founder lines, some of which were pivotal in the development of prominent heterotic groups. Previous studies have summarized pedigree-based relationships, genetic diversity and population structure among commercial inbreds with expired Plant Variety Protection (ex-PVP). However, less is known about the extent of haplotype sharing between historical founders and ex-PVPs. A better understanding of the relationships between founders and ex-PVPs provides insight into the haplotype and heterotic group structure among industry germplasm. We performed high-density haplotype analysis with 11.3 million SNPs on 212 maize inbreds, which included 157 ex-PVPs registered 1976–1992 and 55 public lines relevant to PVPs. Among these lines were 12 key founders identified in literature review: 207, A632, B14, B37, B73, LH123HT, LH82, Mo17, Oh43, OH7, PHG39 and Wf9. Our results revealed that, on average, 81.6% of an ex-PVP’s genome is shared with at least 1 of these 12 founder lines and more than half when limited to B73, Mo17 and 207. Quantifiable similarities and contrasts among heterotic groups and major US seed industry companies were also observed. The results from this study provide high-resolution haplotype data on ex-PVP germplasm, confirm founder relationship trends observed in previous studies, uncover region-specific haplotype structure differences and demonstrate how haplotype sharing analysis can be used as a tool to explore germplasm diversity.


This article is published as Coffman, Stephanie M., Matthew B. Hufford, Carson M. Andorf, and Thomas Lübberstedt. "Haplotype structure in commercial maize breeding programs in relation to key founder lines." Theoretical and Applied Genetics (2019). doi: 10.1007/s00122-019-03486-y.