Construction of the first high-density genetic linkage map and identification of seed yield-related QTLs and candidate genes in Elymus sibiricus, an important forage grass in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

BMC Genomics. 2019 Nov 14;20(1):861. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-6254-4.


Background: Elymus sibiricus is an ecologically and economically important perennial, self-pollinated, and allotetraploid (StStHH) grass, widely used for forage production and animal husbandry in Western and Northern China. However, it has low seed yield mainly caused by seed shattering, which makes seed production difficult for this species. The goals of this study were to construct the high-density genetic linkage map, and to identify QTLs and candidate genes for seed-yield related traits.

Results: An F2 mapping population of 200 individuals was developed from a cross between single genotype from "Y1005" and "ZhN06". Specific-locus amplified fragment sequencing (SLAF-seq) was applied to construct the first genetic linkage map. The final genetic map included 1971 markers on the 14 linkage groups (LGs) and was 1866.35 cM in total. The length of each linkage group varied from 87.67 cM (LG7) to 183.45 cM (LG1), with an average distance of 1.66 cM between adjacent markers. The marker sequences of E. sibiricus were compared to two grass genomes and showed 1556 (79%) markers mapped to wheat, 1380 (70%) to barley. Phenotypic data of eight seed-related traits (2016-2018) were used for QTL identification. A total of 29 QTLs were detected for eight seed-related traits on 14 linkage groups, of which 16 QTLs could be consistently detected for two or three years. A total of 6 QTLs were associated with seed shattering. Based on annotation with wheat and barley genome and transcriptome data of abscission zone in E. sibiricus, we identified 30 candidate genes for seed shattering, of which 15, 7, 6 and 2 genes were involved in plant hormone signal transcription, transcription factor, hydrolase activity and lignin biosynthetic pathway, respectively.

Conclusion: This study constructed the first high-density genetic linkage map and identified QTLs and candidate genes for seed-related traits in E. sibiricus. Results of this study will not only serve as genome-wide resources for gene/QTL fine mapping, but also provide a genetic framework for anchoring sequence scaffolds on chromosomes in future genome sequence assembly of E. sibiricus.

Keywords: Comparative genome analysis; Elymus sibiricus; High density genetic linkage map; QTL; Seed yield-related traits.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosome Mapping*
  • Elymus / classification
  • Elymus / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Genetic Linkage*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genome, Plant
  • Genomics / methods
  • Genotype
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Quantitative Trait Loci*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Seeds / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Tibet


  • Genetic Markers