Genome Wide Association Study Identifies Candidate Genes Related to the Earlywood Tracheid Properties in Picea crassifolia Kom. Zhou, Chengcheng; Guo, Yingtian; Chen, Yali; Zhang, Hongbin; El-Kassaby, Yousry A.; Li, Wei
Picea crassifolia Kom. is one of the timber and ecological conifers in China and its wood tracheid traits directly affect wood formation and adaptability under harsh environment. Molecular studies on P. crassifolia remain inadequate because relatively few genes have been associated with these traits. To identify markers and candidate genes that can potentially be used for genetic improvement of wood tracheid traits, we examined 106 clones of P. crassifolia, and investigated phenotypic data for 14 wood tracheid traits before specific-locus amplified fragment sequencing (SLAF-seq) was employed to perform a genome wide association study (GWAS). Subsequently, the results were used to screen single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci and candidate genes that exhibited a significant correlation with the studied traits. We developed 4,058,883 SLAF-tags and 12,275,765 SNP loci, and our analyses identified a total of 96 SNP loci that showed significant correlations with three earlywood tracheid traits using a mixed linear model (MLM). Next, candidate genes were screened in the 100 kb zone (50 kb upstream, 50 kb downstream) of each of the SNP loci, whereby 67 candidate genes were obtained in earlywood tracheid traits, including 34 genes of known function and 33 genes of unknown function. We provide the most significant SNP for each trait-locus combination and candidate genes occurring within the GWAS hits. These resources provide a foundation for the development of markers that could be used in wood traits improvement and candidate genes for the development of earlywood tracheid in P. crassifolia.
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