Cryptic Genetic Variation for Arabidopsis thaliana Seed Germination Speed in a Novel Salt Stress Environment

G3 (Bethesda). 2016 Oct 13;6(10):3129-3138. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.033944.


The expansion of species ranges frequently necessitates responses to novel environments. In plants, the ability of seeds to disperse to marginal areas relies in part to its ability to germinate under stressful conditions. Here we examine the genetic architecture of Arabidopsis thaliana germination speed under a novel, saline environment, using an Extreme QTL (X-QTL) mapping platform we previously developed. We find that early germination in normal and salt conditions both rely on a QTL on the distal arm of chromosome 4, but we also find unique QTL on chromosomes 1, 2, 4, and 5 that are specific to salt stress environments. Moreover, different QTLs are responsible for early vs. late germination, suggesting a temporal component to the expression of life history under these stress conditions. Our results indicate that cryptic genetic variation exists for responses to a novel abiotic stress, which may suggest a role of such variation in adaptation to new climactic conditions or growth environments.

Keywords: QTL; abiotic stress; bulk segregant analysis; salinity tolerance; salt stress.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Germination / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Salinity
  • Salt Tolerance / genetics*
  • Seedlings / genetics
  • Seedlings / growth & development
  • Seedlings / metabolism
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Stress, Physiological*