Quantitative trait loci mapping of floral and leaf morphology traits in Arabidopsis thaliana: evidence for modular genetic architecture

Evol Dev. May-Jun 2005;7(3):259-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-142X.2005.05028.x.


Summary Morphological variation within organisms is integrated and often modular in nature. That is to say, the size and shape of traits tend to vary in a coordinated and structured manner across sets of organs or parts of an organism. The genetic basis of this morphological integration is largely unknown. Here, we report on quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis of leaf and floral organ size in Arabidopsis thaliana. We evaluate patterns of genetic correlations among traits and perform whole-genome scans using QTL mapping methods. We detected significant genetic variation for the size and shape of each floral and leaf trait in our study. Moreover, we found large positive genetic correlations among sets of either flower or leaf traits, but low and generally nonsignificant genetic correlations between flower and leaf traits. These results support the hypothesis of independent floral and vegetative modules. We consider co-localization of QTL for different traits as support for a pleiotropic basis of morphological integration and modularity. A total of eight QTL affecting flower and three QTL affecting leaf traits were identified. Most QTL affected either floral or leaf traits, providing a general explanation for high correlations within and low correlations between modules. Only two genomic locations affected both flower and leaf growth. These results are discussed in the context of the evolution of modules, pleiotropy, and the putative homologous relationship between leaves and flowers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / anatomy & histology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Flowers / anatomy & histology*
  • Flowers / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant / genetics
  • Genome, Plant
  • Organ Size
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology*
  • Plant Leaves / genetics*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics*