Molecular-marker analysis of seed-weight: genomic locations, gene action, and evidence for orthologous evolution among three legume species

Theor Appl Genet. 1996 Sep;93(4):574-9. doi: 10.1007/BF00417950.


The objectives of this study were to use molecular markers to: (1) identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling seed-weight in soybean, (2) characterize the genetic basis of seed-weight expression, and (3) determine whether soybean shares orthologous seed-weight genes with cowpea and/or mung bean. An F2 population was developed between a large-seeded Glycine max breeding line and a small-seeded G. soja plant introduction. DNA samples from 150 F2 individuals were analyzed with 91 polymorphic genetic markers, including RFLPs, RAPDs and SSRs. Seed-weight was analyzed by randomly sampling 100 seeds from each of 150 greenhouse-grown F2 individuals, and their 150 F2∶3 lines, from a replicated field trial. Markers associated with seed-weight were identified using the computer program MapMaker-QTL and a one-way analysis of variance. Three and five markers were significantly associated with seed-weight variation (P<0.01) in the F2 and F2∶3 generations, respectively. Tests for digenic epistasis revealed three significant interactions in both generations. In a combined analysis, these markers and interactions explained 50 and 60% of the phenotypic variation for seed-weight in the F2 and F2∶3 generations, respectively. Comparison of our results in soybean (Glycine) with those previously reported in cowpea and mung bean (Vigna) indicated that soybean and cowpea share an orthologous seed-weight gene. In both species, a genomic region significantly associated with seed-weight spanned the same RFLP markers in the same linkage order. A significant digenic interaction involving this genomic region was conserved in all three species. These results suggest that the exploitation of "comparative QTL mapping" is an invaluable tool for quantitative geneticists working with poorly characterized plant systems.