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Nested association mapping reveals the genetic architecture of spike emergence and anthesis timing in intermediate wheatgrass

Author: Kayla R Altendorf, Steven R Larson, Lee R DeHaan, Jared Crain, Jeff Neyhart, Kevin M Dorn, James A Anderson

Publication: G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics


Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) is an outcrossing, cool season grass species currently undergoing direct domestication as a perennial grain crop. Though many traits are selection targets, understanding the genetic architecture of those important for local adaptation may accelerate the domestication process. Nested association mapping (NAM) has proven useful in dissecting the genetic control of agronomic traits many crop species, but its utility in primarily outcrossing, perennial species has yet to be demonstrated. Here, we introduce an intermediate wheatgrass NAM population developed by crossing ten phenotypically divergent donor parents to an adapted common parent in a reciprocal manner, yielding 1,168 F1 progeny from 10 families. Using genotyping by sequencing, we identified 8,003 SNP markers and developed a population-specific consensus genetic map with 3,144 markers across 21 linkage groups. Using both genomewide association mapping and linkage mapping combined across and within families, we characterized the genetic control of flowering time. In the analysis of two measures of maturity across four separate environments, we detected as many as 75 significant QTL, many of which correspond to the same regions in both analysis methods across 11 chromosomes. The results demonstrate a complex genetic control that is variable across years, locations, traits, and within families. The methods were effective at detecting previously identified QTL, as well as new QTL that align closely to the well-characterized flowering time orthologs from barley, including PpdH1 and Constans. Our results demonstrate the utility of the NAM population for understanding the genetic control of flowering time and its potential for application to other traits of interest.

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