The genetic basis of seed dormancy, a key life history trait important for adaptive evolution in plant populations, has yet been studied only using seeds produced under controlled conditions in greenhouse environments. However, dormancy is strongly affected by maternal environmental conditions, and interactions between seed genotype and maternal environment have been reported. Consequently, the genetic basis of dormancy of seeds produced under natural field conditions remains unclear. We examined the effect of maternal environment on the genetic architecture of seed dormancy using a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population derived from a cross between two locally adapted populations of Arabidopsis thaliana from Italy and Sweden. We mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) for dormancy of seeds produced in the greenhouse and at the native field sites of the parental genotypes. The Italian genotype produced seeds with stronger dormancy at fruit maturation than did the Swedish genotype in all three environments, and the maternal field environments induced higher dormancy levels compared to the greenhouse environment in both genotypes. Across the three maternal environments, a total of nine dormancy QTL were detected, three of which were only detected among seeds matured in the field, and six of which showed significant QTL × maternal environment interactions. One QTL had a large effect on dormancy across all three environments and colocalized with the candidate gene DOG1. Our results demonstrate the importance of studying the genetic basis of putatively adaptive traits under relevant conditions.
Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; adaptation; genotype-by-environment interactions; maternal effects; quantitative trait loci mapping; seed dormancy.
© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.