Genetic basis of soybean adaptation to North American vs. Asian mega-environments in two independent populations from Canadian × Chinese crosses

M Eugenia Rossi, James H Orf, Li-Jun Liu, Zhimin Dong, Istvan Rajcan
TAG. Theoretical and Applied Genetics. Theoretische und Angewandte Genetik 2013, 126 (7): 1809-23
One of the goals of plant breeding is to increase yield with improved quality characters. Plant introductions (PI) are a rich source of favorable alleles that could improve different characters in modern soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merril] including yield. The objectives of this study were to identify yield QTL underlying the genetic basis for differential adaptation of soybeans to the Canadian, United States or Chinese mega-environments (ME) and to evaluate the relationship and colocalization between yield and agronomic traits QTL. Two crosses between high-yielding Canadian cultivars and elite Chinese cultivars, OAC Millennium × Heinong 38 and Pioneer 9071 × #8902, were used to develop two recombinant inbred line (RIL) populations. Both populations were evaluated at different locations in Ontario, Canada; Minnesota, United States (US), Heilongjiang and Jilin, China, in 2009 and 2010. Significant variation for yield was observed among the RILs of both populations across the three hypothetical ME. Two yield QTL (linked to the interval Satt364-Satt591 and Satt277) and one yield QTL (linked to marker Sat_341) were identified by single-factor ANOVA and interval mapping across all ME in populations 1 and 2, respectively. The most frequent top ten high-yielding lines across all ME carried most of the high-yielding alleles of the QTL that were identified in two and three ME. Both parents contributed favorable alleles, which suggests that not only the adapted parent but also the PI parents are potential sources of beneficial alleles in reciprocal environments. Other QTL were detected also at two and one ME. Most of the yield QTL were co-localized with a QTL associated with an agronomic trait in one, two, or three ME in just one or in both populations. Results suggested that most of the variation observed in seed yield can be explained by the variation of different agronomic traits such a maturity, lodging and height. Novel alleles coming from PI can favorably contribute, directly or indirectly, to seed yield and the utilization of QTL detected across one, two or three ME would facilitate the new allele introgression into breeding populations in both North America and China.

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