Mixed model association scans of multi-environmental trial data reveal major loci controlling yield and yield related traits in Hordeum vulgare in Mediterranean environments
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An association panel consisting of 185 accessions representative of the barley germplasm cultivated in the Mediterranean basin was used to localise quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling grain yield and yield related traits. The germplasm set was genotyped with 1,536 SNP markers and tested for associations with phenotypic data gathered over 2 years for a total of 24 year x location combinations under a broad range of environmental conditions. Analysis of multi-environmental trial (MET) data by fitting a mixed model with kinship estimates detected from two to seven QTL for the major components of yield including 1000 kernel weight, grains per spike and spikes per m(2), as well as heading date, harvest index and plant height. Several of the associations involved SNPs tightly linked to known major genes determining spike morphology in barley (vrs1 and int-c). Similarly, the largest QTL for heading date co-locates with SNPs linked with eam6, a major locus for heading date in barley for autumn sown conditions. Co-localization of several QTL related to yield components traits suggest that major developmental loci may be linked to most of the associations. This study highlights the potential of association genetics to identify genetic variants controlling complex traits.
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