Days to silking (DTS) is one of the most important traits in maize (Zea mays). To investigate its genetic basis, a recombinant inbred line population was subjected to high and low nitrogen (N) regimes to detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with DTS. Three QTLs were identified under the high N regime; these explained 25.4% of the phenotypic variance. Due to additive effects, the QTL on chromosome 6 increased DTS up to 0.66 days; while the other two QTLs mapped on chromosome 9 (one linked with Phi061 and the other linked with Nc134) decreased DTS 0.89 and 0.91 days, respectively. Under low N regime, two QTLs were mapped on chromosomes 6 and 9, which accounted for 25.9% of the phenotypic variance. Owing to additive effects, the QTL on chromosome 6 increased DTS 0.67 days, while the other QTL on chromosome 9 decreased it 1.48 days. The QTL on chromosome 6, flanked by microsatellite markers Bnlg1600 and Phi077, was detected under both N regimes. In conclusion, we identified four QTLs, one on chromosome 6 and three on chromosome 9. These results contribute to our understanding of the genetic basis of DTS and will be useful for developing marker-assisted selection in maize breeding programs.
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