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Quantitative Trait Mapping of Plant Architecture in Two BC1F2 Populations of Sorghum Bicolor × S. halepense and Comparisons to Two Other Sorghum Populations

Author: WenQian Kong, Pheonah Nabukalu, T. S. Cox, Valorie H. Goff, Jon S. Robertson, Gary J. Pierce, Cornelia Lemke, Rosana Compton, Andrew H. Paterson

Publication: Theoretical and Applied Genetics


Key message: Comparing populations derived, respectively, from polyploid Sorghum halepense and its progenitors improved knowledge of plant architecture and showed that S. halepense harbors genetic novelty of potential value for sorghum improvement
Vegetative growth and the timing of the vegetative-to-reproductive transition are critical to a plant’s fitness, directly and indirectly determining when and how a plant lives, grows and reproduces. We describe quantitative trait analysis of plant height and flowering time in the naturally occurring tetraploid Sorghum halepense, using two novel BC1F2 populations totaling 246 genotypes derived from backcrossing two tetraploid Sorghum bicolor x S. halepense F1 plants to a tetraploidized S. bicolor. Phenotyping for two years each in Bogart, GA and Salina, KS allowed us to dissect variance into narrow-sense genetic (QTLs) and environmental components. In crosses with a common S. bicolor BTx623 parent, comparison of QTLs in S. halepense, its rhizomatous progenitor S. propinquum and S. bicolor race guinea which is highly divergent from BTx623 permit inferences of loci at which new alleles have been associated with improvement of elite sorghums. The relative abundance of QTLs unique to the S. halepense populations may reflect its polyploidy and subsequent ‘diploidization’ processes often associated with the formation of genetic novelty, a possibility further supported by a high level of QTL polymorphism within sibling lines derived from a common S. halepense parent. An intriguing hypothesis for further investigation is that polyploidy of S. halepense following 96 million years of abstinence, coupled with natural selection during its spread to diverse environments across six continents, may provide a rich collection of novel alleles that offer potential opportunities for sorghum improvement.

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