Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 121, Issue 8, pp 1405–1417 | Cite as

Testing water-soluble carbohydrate QTL effects in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) by marker selection

  • L. B. Turner
  • M. Farrell
  • M. O. Humphreys
  • O. Dolstra
Original Paper


Water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) are an important factor determining the nutritional value of grass forage and development of genetic markers for selection of WSC traits in perennial ryegrass would benefit future breeding programmes. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for WSC have been published for an F2 ryegrass mapping family. Markers showing significant associations with these QTLs were used to design narrow-based populations with homozygosity for target QTLs. Founders were selected from within the mapping family. The divergent populations produced were analysed for WSC content in the glasshouse and the field. There was evidence of complex interactions between WSC content and other factors and traits, including the scale of assessment, time/degree of sward establishment and other forage quality parameters. Differences between the divergent pairs of the various populations were small. However, differences observed between the founder selection groups were maintained and the roles of the QTL regions in regulating forage WSC content were confirmed. In general, the individual divergent populations exploited only a limited extent of the large phenotypic variation available within the mapping family. However, this study sets the scene for exploring the opportunities for marker-assisted breeding strategies for complex traits in obligate out-breeding species, and the challenges of doing this are discussed.



Apparent digestibility of organic matter in vivo


Ash content


Cell-wall digestibility


Dry matter

G × E

Genetic by environment


High performance liquid chromatography


Marker-assisted selection


Near infrared spectroscopy


Neutral detergent fibre




Quantitative trait locus


Organic matter digestibility


Water-soluble carbohydrate


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. B. Turner
    • 1
  • M. Farrell
    • 1
  • M. O. Humphreys
    • 1
  • O. Dolstra
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)Aberystwyth UniversityAberystwythUK
  2. 2.Wageningen University and Research Centre, Plant BreedingWageningenThe Netherlands

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