Growth Dynamics:

Identification and characterisation of candidate genes associated with growth dynamics in maize, Arabidopsis and rapeseed, with particular emphasis on genes influencing expression and metabolite patterns and the corresponding networks (in cooperation with RGs NAM, BA, ADP; RGR, GED; QG)


Using our large plant phenotyping facility and 50 k SNP array data, the novel mechanistic concept of developmental phase-specific (dynamic) QTL action and (epistatic) interaction, including allele effect reversal, has been derived through time-resolved, non-invasive monitoring of growth of 252 diverse maize inbred lines. Large-scale sequence variation has been uncovered in a compendium of 4648 maize candidate genes for biomass production and composition (Muraya et al. 2017).

In a diverse population of spring-type Brassica napus, time-resolved data for image-derived growth related traits yielded multiple robust main effect marker-trait associations (MTA) for biomass and biomass-related traits, demonstrating that early plant growth is a complex trait governed by several medium and many small effect loci, most of which act only during narrowly defined phases (Knoch et al. 2018).

Similarly, after assessing vegetative growth in 382 Arabidopsis thaliana accession at 12 different developmental time points using the IPK automated phenotyping facility for small plants, the detected MTAs for plant size and growth rate could be grouped according to their temporal expression patterns, indicating that the corresponding genes are either selectively expressed at different growth stages or their functions are required (or growth-limiting) only in certain developmental phases (Meyer et al. 2018).

We are now in the process of selecting suitable candidate genes from the GWAS in maize, canola and Arabiodpsis for validation and characterisation.


Muraya MM, J Chu, Y Zhao, A Junker, C Klukas, JC Reif & T Altmann (2017) Genetic variation of growth dynamics in maize (Zea mays L.) revealed through automated non‐invasive phenotyping. Plant Journal 89(2), 366-380.

Knoch D, A Abbadi, F Grandke, RC Meyer, B Samans, CR Werner, R Snowdon & T Altmann (2018) High-throughput phenotyping reveals dynamic QTL action on plant growth progression in canola. In preparation.

Meyer RC, K Weigelt-Fischer, D Knoch &T Altmann (2018) Stage-specific QTL controlling vegetative growth in Arabidopsis thaliana. In preparation.