Whole-Genome Analysis of Candidate genes Associated with Seed Size and Weight in Sorghum bicolor Reveals Signatures of Artificial Selection and Insights into Parallel Domestication in Cereal Crops

Front Plant Sci. 2017 Jul 18;8:1237. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2017.01237. eCollection 2017.


Seed size and seed weight are major quality attributes and important determinants of yield that have been strongly selected for during crop domestication. Limited information is available about the genetic control and genes associated with seed size and weight in sorghum. This study identified sorghum orthologs of genes with proven effects on seed size and weight in other plant species and searched for evidence of selection during domestication by utilizing resequencing data from a diversity panel. In total, 114 seed size candidate genes were identified in sorghum, 63 of which exhibited signals of purifying selection during domestication. A significant number of these genes also had domestication signatures in maize and rice, consistent with the parallel domestication of seed size in cereals. Seed size candidate genes that exhibited differentially high expression levels in seed were also found more likely to be under selection during domestication, supporting the hypothesis that modification to seed size during domestication preferentially targeted genes for intrinsic seed size rather than genes associated with physiological factors involved in the carbohydrate supply and transport. Our results provide improved understanding of the complex genetic control of seed size and weight and the impact of domestication on these genes.

Keywords: comparative genomics; domestication; orthologs; seed size; selection signatures; sorghum.