Analysis of a triple testcross design with recombinant inbred lines reveals a significant role of epistasis in heterosis for biomass-related traits in Arabidopsis

Genetics. 2007 Apr;175(4):2009-17. doi: 10.1534/genetics.106.069005. Epub 2007 Feb 7.


Primary causes of heterosis are still unknown. Our goal was to investigate the extent and underlying genetic causes of heterosis for five biomass-related traits in Arabidopsis thaliana. We (i) investigated the relative contribution of dominance and epistatic effects to heterosis in the hybrid C24 x Col-0 by generation means analysis and estimates of variance components based on a triple testcross (TTC) design with recombinant inbred lines (RILs), (ii) estimated the average degree of dominance, and (iii) examined the importance of reciprocal and maternal effects in this cross. In total, 234 RILs were crossed to parental lines and their F1's. Midparent heterosis (MPH) was high for rosette diameter at 22 days after sowing (DAS) and 29 DAS, growth rate (GR), and biomass yield (BY). Using the F2-metric, directional dominance prevailed for the majority of traits studied but reciprocal and maternal effects were not significant. Additive and dominance variances were significant for all traits. Additive x additive and dominance x dominance variances were significant for all traits but GR. We conclude that dominance as well as digenic and possibly higher-order epistatic effects play an important role in heterosis for biomass-related traits. Our results encourage the use of Arabidopsis hybrid C24 x Col-0 for identification and description of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for heterosis for biomass-related traits and further genomic studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development
  • Biomass
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Genetic Variation
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Inbreeding
  • Models, Genetic
  • Recombination, Genetic