Genetic variants in root architecture-related genes in a Glycine soja accession, a potential resource to improve cultivated soybean
Background Root system architecture is important for water acquisition and nutrient acquisition for all crops. In soybean breeding programs, wild soybean alleles have been used successfully to enhance yield and seed composition traits, but have never been investigated to improve root system architecture. Therefore, in this study, high-density single-feature polymorphic markers and simple sequence repeats were used to map quantitative trait loci (QTLs) governing root system architecture in an inter-specific soybean mapping population developed from a cross between Glycine max and Glycine soja.
Results Wild and cultivated soybean both contributed alleles towards significant additive large effect QTLs on chromosome 6 and 7 for a longer total root length and root distribution, respectively. Epistatic effect QTLs were also identified for taproot length, average diameter, and root distribution. These root traits will influence the water and nutrient uptake in soybean. Two cell division-related genes (D type cyclin and auxin efflux carrier protein) with insertion/deletion variations might contribute to the shorter root phenotypes observed in G. soja compared with cultivated soybean. Based on the location of the QTLs and sequence information from a second G. soja accession, three genes (slow anion channel associated 1 like, Auxin responsive NEDD8-activating complex and peroxidase), each with a non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism mutation were identified, which may also contribute to changes in root architecture in the cultivated soybean. In addition, Apoptosis inhibitor 5-like on chromosome 7 and slow anion channel associated 1-like on chromosome 15 had epistatic interactions for taproot length QTLs in soybean.
Conclusion Rare alleles from a G. soja accession are expected to enhance our understanding of the genetic components involved in root architecture traits, and could be combined to improve root system and drought adaptation in soybean.