Background: Breeders in the allo-octoploid strawberry currently make little use of molecular marker tools. As a first step of a QTL discovery project on fruit quality traits and resistance to soil-borne pathogens such as Phytophthora cactorum and Verticillium we built a genome-wide SSR linkage map for the cross Holiday x Korona. We used the previously published MADCE method to obtain full haplotype information for both of the parental cultivars, facilitating in-depth studies on their genomic organisation.
Results: The linkage map incorporates 508 segregating loci and represents each of the 28 chromosome pairs of octoploid strawberry, spanning an estimated length of 2050 cM. The sub-genomes are denoted according to their sequence divergence from F. vesca as revealed by marker performance. The map revealed high overall synteny between the sub-genomes, but also revealed two large inversions on LG2C and LG2D, of which the latter was confirmed using a separate mapping population. We discovered interesting breeding features within the parental cultivars by in-depth analysis of our haplotype data. The linkage map-derived homozygosity level of Holiday was similar to the pedigree-derived inbreeding level (33% and 29%, respectively). For Korona we found that the observed homozygosity level was over three times higher than expected from the pedigree (13% versus 3.6%). This could indicate selection pressure on genes that have favourable effects in homozygous states. The level of kinship between Holiday and Korona derived from our linkage map was 2.5 times higher than the pedigree-derived value. This large difference could be evidence of selection pressure enacted by strawberry breeders towards specific haplotypes.
Conclusion: The obtained SSR linkage map provides a good base for QTL discovery. It also provides the first biologically relevant basis for the discernment and notation of sub-genomes. For the first time, we revealed genomic rearrangements that were verified in a separate mapping population. We believe that haplotype information will become increasingly important in identifying marker-trait relationships and regions that are under selection pressure within breeding material. Our attempt at providing a biological basis for the discernment of sub-genomes warrants follow-up studies to streamline the naming of the sub-genomes among different octoploid strawberry maps.