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Background. Maize (Zea mays) is C 4 tropical cereal and its adaptation to temperate climates can be problematic due to low soil temperatures at early stages of establishment. Methods. We report on a physiological and transcriptomic experiment on twelve maize varieties from a chilling condition adapted gene pool which identified four genotypes with significant contrasting chilling tolerance.These four varieties were subject to microarray analysis to identify up and down regulated genes under chilling conditions. Results. Stress induced by low temperature in the varieties Picker,PR39B29, Fergus and Codisco was reflected only in the expression profiles of the varieties Picker and PR39B29. No significant changes in expression were observed in Fergus and Codisco upon chilling stress. The overall number of genes up and down regulated in the two chilling tolerant varieties amounted to69. These two varieties exhibited two different trancriptomic patterns in which only four genes were shared, although not all with the same degree of regulation. Overall the expression pattern was similar between the two chilling tolerant varieties, indicating a common response to chilling stress. Discussion. Varieties with an enhanced root/shoot growth ratio under low temperature were more tolerant which could be an early and inexpensive measure for germ plasm screening. We have identified novel cold inducible genes in an already adapted maize breeding gene pool. This illustrates that further varietal selection for enhanced chilling tolerance is possible in an already preselected gene pool.
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Supplemental Materials Table 1
Maize varieties included in this study. Maize varieties differed in the type of kernel and maturity group. Some varieties were included in the Irish Recommended List 2008 for showing high performance under Irish climate conditions. (*varieties included in the Irish Recommended List 2008 suitable for growing in the open/without plastic; **varieties included in the Irish Recommended List 2008 suitable for growing covered/with plastic; varieties marked in bold were included in the microarray study).
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