Genetic basis of adaptation: flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana
We have mapped QTLs (quantitative trait loci) for an adaptive trait, flowering time, in a selfing annual, Arabidopsis thaliana. To obtain a mapping population we made a cross between an early-summer, annual strain, Li-5, and an individual from a late over-wintering natural population, Naantali. From the backcross to Li-5 298 progeny were grown, of which 93 of the most extreme individuals were genotyped. The data were analysed with both interval mapping and composite interval mapping methods to reveal one major and six minor QTLs, with at least one QTL on each of the five chromosomes. The QTL on chromosome 4 was a major one with an effect of 17.3 days on flowering time and explaining 53.4% of the total variance. The others had effects of at most 6.5 days, and they accounted for only small portions of the variance. Epistasis was indicated between one pair of the QTLs. The result of finding one major QTL and little epistasis agrees with previous studies on flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana and other species. That several QTLs were found was expected considering the large number of possible candidate loci. In the light of the suggested genetic models of gene action at the candidate loci, epistasis was to be expected. The data showed that major QTLs for adaptive traits can be detected in non-domesticated species.
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