Joint analysis for heading date QTL in small interconnected barley populations
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The purpose of the present work is to validate the effect of the main QTL determining heading date in a set of 281 doubled haploid lines of barley, derived from 17 small interconnected populations, whose parents are cultivars commonly used in the Spanish barley breeding program. We used 72 molecular markers distributed across the seven chromosomes, particularly in regions known to contain flowering time genes or QTL. A combined linkage map over the 17 populations was constructed. The lines were evaluated in four field trials: two autumn sowings and two winter sowings, and in two treatments at a greenhouse trial, under controlled conditions of photoperiod and temperature. We have found that it is possible to carry out QTL detection in a complex germplasm set, representative of the materials used in an active breeding programme. In most cases two alleles per QTL were detected, though polymorphism of flanking markers was notably higher. The results revealed that there is a set of QTL that accounts for an important percentage of the phenotypic variation, suitable for marker assisted selection. Also, the role of the regions carrying the photoperiod response genes Ppd-H1 and Ppd-H2, the vernalization response genes Vrn-H1 and Vrn-H2, and the earliness per se locus Eam6, of which allele-specific or closely linked markers were available, was confirmed. These results support the use of this kind of approach for the validation of QTL found in single cross population studies, or to survey allelic diversity in plant breeding sets of materials.