For broadening the narrow genetic base of modern soybean cultivars, 159 accessions were selected from the Chinese soybean collection which contained at least one of seven important agronomic traits: resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) or soybean mosaic virus (SMV), tolerance to salt, cold, or drought, high seed oil content or high protein content. Genetic diversity evaluation using 55 microsatellite loci distributed across the genome indicated that a large amount of genetic diversity (0.806) and allelic variation (781) were conserved in this selected set, which captured 65.6% of the alleles present in Chinese soybean collection (1,863 accessions). On average, 9.4 rare alleles (frequency\\5%) per locus were present, which were highly informative. Using model-based Bayesian clustering in STRUCTURE we distinguished four main clusters and a set of accessions with admixed ancestry. The four clusters reflected different geographic regions of origin of the accessions. Since the clusters were also clearly different with respect to the seven agronomic traits, the inferred population structure was introduced when association analysis was conducted. A total of 21 SSR markers on 16 chromosomes were identified as significantly (P\\0.01) associated with high oil content (6), high protein content (1), drought tolerance (5), SCN resistance (6) and SMV resistance (3). Twelve of these markers were located in or near previously identified quantitative trait loci (QTL). The results for both genetic relationship and trait-related markers will be useful for effective conservation and utilization of soybean germplasm
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