Combined genomics and metabolomics approaches were used to unravel molecular mechanisms behind interactions between winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris) and flea beetle (Phyllotreta nemorum). B. vulgaris comprises two morphologically, biochemically and cytologically deviating types, which differ in flea beetle resistance, saponin and glucosinolate profiles, as well as leaf pubescence. An F2 population generated from a cross between the two B. vulgaris types was used to construct a B. vulgaris genetic map based on 100 AFLP and 31 microsatellite markers. The map was divided into eight linkage groups. QTL (quantitative trait loci) analysis revealed a total of 15 QTL affecting eight traits, including nine QTL for four saponins, two QTL for two glucosinolates, two QTL for hairiness, and two QTL for flea beetle resistance. The two QTL for resistance towards flea beetles in B. vulgaris co-localized with QTL for the four saponins associated with resistance. Furthermore, global QTL analysis of B. vulgaris metabolites identified QTL for a number of flavonoid glycosides and additional saponins from both resistant and susceptible types. The transcriptome of the resistant B. vulgaris type was sequenced by pyrosequencing, and sequences containing microsatellites were identified. Microsatellite types in B. vulgaris were similar to Arabidopsis thaliana but different from Oryza sativa. Comparative analysis between B. vulgaris and A. thaliana revealed a remarkable degree of synteny between a large part of linkage groups 1 and 4 of B. vulgaris harboring the two QTL for flea beetle resistance and Arabidopsis chromosomes 3 and 1. Gene candidates that may underlie QTL for resistance and saponin biosynthesis are discussed.
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