Supermodels: sorghum and maize provide mutual insight into the genetics of flowering time

E S Mace, C H Hunt, D R Jordan
TAG. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Theoretische und Angewandte Genetik 2013, 126 (5): 1377-95
Nested association mapping (NAM) offers power to dissect complex, quantitative traits. This study made use of a recently developed sorghum backcross (BC)-NAM population to dissect the genetic architecture of flowering time in sorghum; to compare the QTL identified with other genomic regions identified in previous sorghum and maize flowering time studies and to highlight the implications of our findings for plant breeding. A subset of the sorghum BC-NAM population consisting of over 1,300 individuals from 24 families was evaluated for flowering time across multiple environments. Two QTL analysis methodologies were used to identify 40 QTLs with predominately small, additive effects on flowering time; 24 of these co-located with previously identified QTL for flowering time in sorghum and 16 were novel in sorghum. Significant synteny was also detected with the QTL for flowering time detected in a comparable NAM resource recently developed for maize (Zea mays) by Buckler et al. (Science 325:714-718, 2009). The use of the sorghum BC-NAM population allowed us to catalogue allelic variants at a maximal number of QTL and understand their contribution to the flowering time phenotype and distribution across diverse germplasm. The successful demonstration of the power of the sorghum BC-NAM population is exemplified not only by correspondence of QTL previously identified in sorghum, but also by correspondence of QTL in different taxa, specifically maize in this case. The unification across taxa of the candidate genes influencing complex traits, such as flowering time can further facilitate the detailed dissection of the genetic control and causal genes.

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