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Association genetics of phenolic needle compounds in Norway spruce with variable susceptibility to needle bladder rust

Ganthaler, Andrea, Stöggl, Wolfgang, Mayr, Stefan, Kranner, Ilse, Schüler, Silvio, Wischnitzki, Elisabeth, Sehr, Eva Maria, Fluch, Silvia, Trujillo-Moya, Carlos
Plant molecular biology 2017 v.94 no.3 pp. 229-251
Chrysomyxa, Picea abies, additive effect, arithmetics, bladder, defense mechanisms, epigallocatechin, fungi, genes, kaempferol, marker-assisted selection, metabolites, pathogens, phenotypic variation, phenylpropanoids, quercetin, resveratrol, single nucleotide polymorphism, trees
KEY MESSAGE: Accumulation of phenolic needle metabolites in Norway spruce is regulated by many genes with small and additive effects and is correlated with the susceptibility against fungal attack. Norway spruce accumulates high foliar concentrations of secondary phenolic metabolites, with important functions for pathogen defence responses. However, the molecular genetic basis underlying the quantitative variation of phenolic compounds and their role in enhanced resistance of spruce to infection by needle bladder rust are unknown. To address these questions, a set of 1035 genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was associated to the quantitative variation of four simple phenylpropanoids, eight stilbenes, nine flavonoids, six related arithmetic parameters and the susceptibility to infection by Chrysomyxa rhododendri in an unstructured natural population of Norway spruce. Thirty-one significant genetic associations for the flavonoids gallocatechin, kaempferol 3-glucoside and quercetin 3-glucoside and the stilbenes resveratrol, piceatannol, astringin and isorhapontin were discovered, explaining 22–59% of phenotypic variation, and indicating a regulation of phenolic accumulation by many genes with small and additive effects. The phenolics profile differed between trees with high and low susceptibility to the fungus, underlining the importance of phenolic compounds in the defence mechanisms of Norway spruce to C. rhododendri. Results highlight the utility of association studies in non-model tree species and may enable marker-assisted selection of Norway spruce adapted to severe pathogen attack.