Variation in maize for response to photoperiod is related to geographical adaptation in the species. Maize possesses homologs of many genes identified as regulators of flowering time in other species, but their relation to the natural variation for photoperiod response in maize is unknown. Candidate gene sequences were mapped in four populations created by crossing two temperate inbred lines to two photoperiod-sensitive tropical inbreds. Whole-genome scans were conducted by high-density genotyping of the populations, which were phenotyped over 3 years in both short- and long-day environments. Joint multiple population analysis identified genomic regions controlling photoperiod responses in flowering time, plant height, and total leaf number. Four key genome regions controlling photoperiod response across populations were identified, referred to as ZmPR1–4. Functional allelic differences within these regions among phenotypically similar founders suggest distinct evolutionary trajectories for photoperiod adaptation in maize. These regions encompass candidate genes CCA/LHY, CONZ1, CRY2, ELF4, GHD7, VGT1, HY1/SE5, TOC1/PRR7/PPD-1, PIF3, ZCN8, and ZCN19.

  • Received September 25, 2009.
  • Accepted December 8, 2009.
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