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QTL in mega-environments: I. Universal and specific seed yield QTL detected in a population derived from a cross of high-yielding adapted x high-yielding exotic soybean lines

Palomeque, Laura, Li-Jun, Liu, Li, Wenbin, Hedges, Bradley, Cober, Elroy R., Rajcan, Istvan
Theoretical and applied genetics 2009 v.119 no.3 pp. 417-427
Glycine max, alleles, crossing, germplasm, heritability, high-yielding varieties, inbred lines, phenotypic variation, progeny, quantitative trait loci, seed yield, soybeans, Canada, China
Modern soybean [(Glycine max (L.) Merrill] breeding programs rely primarily on the use of elite x elite line crosses to develop high-yielding cultivars. Favorable alleles for traits of interest have been found in exotic germplasm but the successful introduction of such alleles has been hampered by the lack of adaptation of the exotic parent to local mega-environment and difficulties in identifying superior progeny from elite x exotic crosses. The objective of this study was to use a population derived from a cross between an adapted and an exotic elite line to understand the genetic causes underlying adaptation to two mega-environments (China and Canada). A cross between a high-yielding Canadian cultivar 'OAC Millennium' and an elite Chinese cultivar 'Heinong 38' was performed to develop a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population. The RIL population was evaluated in China and Canada in multiple environments from 2004 to 2006. Significant variation for seed yield was observed among the RILs in both the Chinese and Canadian environment. Individual RILs performed differently between the Chinese and Canadian environments suggesting differential adaptation to intercontinental mega-environments. Seven seed yield quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified of which five were mega-environment universal QTL (linked to markers Satt100, Satt162, Satt277, Sat_126, and the interval of Satt139-Sat_042) and two were mega-environment-specific QTL (at marker intervals, Satt194-SOYGPA and Satt259-Satt576). Seed yield QTL located near Satt277 has been confirmed and new QTL have been identified explaining between 9 and 37% of the phenotypic variation in seed yield. The QTL located near Satt100 explained the greatest amount of variation ranging from 18 to 37% per environment. Broad sense heritability ranged from 89 to 64% among environments. Epistatic effects have been identified in both mega-environments with pairs of markers explaining between 9 and 14% of the phenotypic variation in seed yield. An improved understanding of the type of QTL action as either universal or mega-environment-specific QTL as well as their interaction may facilitate the development of strategies to introgress specific high-yielding alleles from Chinese to North American germplasm and vice versa to sustain efforts in breeding of high-yielding soybean cultivars.