Genetic analysis of sunflower domestication

Genetics. 2002 Jul;161(3):1257-67.


Quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling phenotypic differences between cultivated sunflower and its wild progenitor were investigated in an F(3) mapping population. Composite interval mapping revealed the presence of 78 QTL affecting the 18 quantitative traits of interest, with 2-10 QTL per trait. Each QTL explained 3.0-68.0% of the phenotypic variance, although only 4 (corresponding to 3 of 18 traits) had effects >25%. Overall, 51 of the 78 QTL produced phenotypic effects in the expected direction, and for 13 of 18 traits the majority of QTL had the expected effect. Despite being distributed across 15 of the 17 linkage groups, there was a substantial amount of clustering among QTL controlling different traits. In several cases, regions influencing multiple traits harbored QTL with antagonistic effects, producing a cultivar-like phenotype for some traits and a wild-like phenotype for others. On the basis of the directionality of QTL, strong directional selection for increased achene size appears to have played a central role in sunflower domestication. None of the other traits show similar evidence of selection. The occurrence of numerous wild alleles with cultivar-like effects, combined with the lack of major QTL, suggests that sunflower was readily domesticated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping
  • DNA, Plant / genetics
  • DNA, Plant / isolation & purification
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Markers
  • Helianthus / anatomy & histology*
  • Helianthus / genetics*
  • Helianthus / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Structures / anatomy & histology
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*


  • DNA, Plant
  • Genetic Markers