Genome-wide association mapping reveals epistasis and genetic interaction networks in sugar beet

Theor Appl Genet. 2011 Jun;123(1):109-18. doi: 10.1007/s00122-011-1570-3. Epub 2011 Mar 30.


Epistasis is defined as interactions between alleles of two or more genetic loci. Detection of epistatic interactions is the key to understand the genetic architecture and gene networks underlying complex traits. Here, we examined the extent of epistasis for seven quantitative traits with an association mapping approach in a large population of elite sugar beet lines. We found that correction for population stratification is required and that in terms of reducing the false-positive rate the mixed model approach including the kinship matrix performed best. In genome-wide scans, we detected both main effects and epistatic QTL. For physiological traits, the detected digenic and higher-order epistasis explained a considerable proportion of the genotypic variance. We illustrate that the identified epistatic interactions define comprehensive genetic networks, which may serve as starting points towards a systems-oriented approach to understand the regulation of complex traits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Beta vulgaris / genetics*
  • Breeding
  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Crosses, Genetic
  • Epistasis, Genetic*
  • Genetic Association Studies / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Models, Genetic
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci