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Identifying favorable alleles for improving key agronomic traits in upland cotton

Dai, Panhong, Miao, Yuchen, He, Shoupu, Pan, Zhaoe, Jia, Yinhua, Cai, Yingfan, Sun, Junling, Wang, Liru, Pang, Baoyin, Wang, Mi, Du, Xiongming
BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 138
Gossypium hirsutum, agronomic traits, alleles, cotton, early development, genetic improvement, genetic markers, genetic variation, genotype, germplasm, phenotypic variation
BACKGROUND: Gossypium hirsutum L. is grown worldwide and is the largest source of natural fiber crop. We focus on exploring the favorable alleles (FAs) for upland cotton varieties improvement, and further understanding the history of accessions selection and acumination of favorable allele during breeding. RESULTS: The genetic basis of phenotypic variation has been studied. But the accumulation of favorable alleles in cotton breeding history in unknown, and potential favorable alleles to enhance key agronomic traits in the future cotton varieties have not yet been identified. Therefore, 419 upland cotton accessions were screened, representing a diversity of phenotypic variations of 7362 G. hirsutum, and 15 major traits were investigated in 6 environments. These accessions were categorized into 3 periods (early, medium, and modern) according to breeding history. All accessions were divided into two major groups using 299 polymorphic microsatellite markers: G1 (high fiber yield and quality, late maturity) and G2 (low fiber yield and quality, early maturity). The proportion of G1 genotype gradually increased from early to modern breeding periods. Furthermore, 21 markers (71 alleles) were significantly associated (−log P > 4) with 15 agronomic traits in multiple environments. Seventeen alleles were identified as FAs; these alleles accumulated more in the modern period than in other periods, consistent with their phenotypic variation trends in breeding history. Our results demonstrate that the favorable alleles accumulated through breeding effects, especially for common favorable alleles. However, the potential elite accessions could be rapidly screened by rare favorable alleles. CONCLUSION: In our study, genetic variation and genome-wide associations for 419 upland cotton accessions were analyzed. Two favorable allele types were identified during three breeding periods, providing important information for yield/quality improvement of upland cotton germplasm.