Natural selection on pleiotropic quantitative trait Loci affecting a life-history trade-off in Avena barbata

Evolution. 2009 Aug;63(8):2153-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2009.00701.x. Epub 2009 May 9.


We applied QTL mapping to fitness variation of Avena barbata under well-watered greenhouse conditions. One hundred eighty recombinant inbred lines were assayed for flowering time, total size, mass allocation, and fitness. Composite Interval Mapping identified two to five loci affecting these traits. These were well supported in more powerful Multiple and Bayesian interval mapping analyses that indicated that additional QTL, as well as epistatic interactions also affect the traits. The posterior distribution of the number of QTL peaked at five to eight additive loci and one to two interactions, but the specific locations of the additional loci could not be determined with certainty. In most cases in which loci for separate traits mapped to similar locations, explicit tests supported pleiotropy over close linkage of separate loci. Alleles that hastened first flowering generally reduced vegetative mass, increased reproductive mass, and were associated with high fitness. Because effects on mass allocation generally cancelled one another, few loci affected total plant size. Only one QTL affected vegetative mass independent of reproductive mass and this locus had little effect on fitness. Thus selection acts to shift the mass allocation toward greater reproductive allocation, because the correlated decrease in vegetative mass poses only a minor fitness cost.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Epistasis, Genetic
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Poaceae / genetics*
  • Poaceae / growth & development
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Selection, Genetic*