Gene expression quantitative trait locus analysis of 16 000 barley genes reveals a complex pattern of genome-wide transcriptional regulation

Plant J. 2008 Jan;53(1):90-101. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2007.03315.x. Epub 2007 Oct 17.


Transcript abundance from cRNA hybridizations to Affymetrix microarrays can be used for simultaneous marker development and genome-wide gene expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis of crops. We have previously shown that it is easily possible to use Affymetrix expression arrays to profile individuals from a segregating population to accurately identify robust polymorphic molecular genetic markers. We applied the method to identify more than 2000 genetic polymorphisms (transcript derived markers, TDMs) from an experiment involving two commercial varieties of barley (Hordeum vulgare; Steptoe and Morex) and their doubled-haploid progeny. With this set of TDMs, we constructed a genetic map and used it for the genome-wide eQTL analysis of about 16 000 genes in a relatively large population (n = 139). We identified 23 738 significant eQTLs at a genome-wide significance (P </= 0.05), affecting the expression of 12 987 genes. Over a third of these genes with expression variation have only one identified eQTL while the rest have two to six. A large proportion of the quantitatively controlled transcripts appear to be regulated by both cis and trans effects. More than half of the quantitatively controlled transcripts appear to be primarily regulated by cis eQTLs in this population. We show that although there appear to be eQTL hotspots many of these are in chromosomal regions of low recombination, such as genetic centromeres, and so have a high gene density per centimorgan. Some chromosomal regions have a significant excess of eQTL over the number expected from gene density, and many of these are biased towards eQTL for which the allele from one particular parent increases the expression level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Profiling / instrumentation
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome, Plant
  • Hordeum / genetics*
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / physiology*
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers