Quantitative resistance to plant pathogens, controlled by multiple loci of small effect, is important for food production, food security, and food safety but is poorly understood. To gain insights into the genetic architecture of quantitative resistance in maize, we evaluated a 5,000-inbred-line nested association mapping population for resistance to northern leaf blight, a maize disease of global economic importance. Twenty-nine quantitative trait loci were identified, and most had multiple alleles. The large variation in resistance phenotypes could be attributed to the accumulation of numerous loci of small additive effects. Genome-wide nested association mapping, using 1.6 million SNPs, identified multiple candidate genes related to plant defense, including receptor-like kinase genes similar to those involved in basal defense. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that quantitative disease resistance in plants is conditioned by a range of mechanisms and could have considerable mechanistic overlap with basal resistance.
PNAS (2011) 108 (17): 6893-6898 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1010894108)