Identification of QTL controlling domestication-related traits in cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp)

Abstract

Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp) is a warm-season legume with a genetically diverse gene-pool composed of wild and cultivated forms. Cowpea domestication involved considerable phenotypic changes from the wild progenitor, including reduction of pod shattering, increased organ size, and changes in flowering time. Little is known about the genetic basis underlying these changes. In this study, 215 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between a cultivated and a wild cowpea accession were used to evaluate nine domestication-related traits (pod shattering, peduncle length, flower color, days to flowering, 100-seed weight, pod length, leaf length, leaf width and seed number per pod). A high-density genetic map containing 17,739 single nucleotide polymorphisms was constructed and used to identify 16 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for these nine traits. Based on annotations of the cowpea reference genome, genes within these regions are reported. Four regions with clusters of QTL were identified, including one on chromosome 8 related to increased organ size. This study provides new knowledge of the genomic regions controlling domestication-related traits in cowpea as well as candidate genes underlying those QTL. This information can help to exploit wild relatives in cowpea breeding programs.

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