GWAS Identifies Two Important Genes Involved in Chinese Chestnut Weight and Leaf Length Regulation
Published:11 Jan.2024    Source:Plant Physiology
There are many factors that affect the yield of Chinese chestnut (Castanea mollissima), with single nut weight (SNW) being one of the most important. Leaf length is also related to Chinese chestnut yield. However, the genetic architecture and gene function associated with Chinese chestnut nut yield have not been fully explored. In this study, we performed genotyping by sequencing 151 Chinese chestnut cultivars, followed by a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on six horticultural traits.
First, we analyzed the phylogeny of the Chinese chestnut and found that the Chinese chestnut cultivars divided into two ecotypes, a northern and southern cultivar group. Differences between the cultivated populations were found in the pathways of plant growth and adaptation to the environment. In the selected regions, we also found interesting tandemly arrayed genes that may influence Chinese chestnut traits and environmental adaptability. To further investigate which horticultural traits were selected, we performed a GWAS using six horticultural traits from 151 cultivars. Forty-five loci that strongly associated with horticultural traits were identified, and six genes highly associated with these traits were screened.

In addition, a candidate gene associated with SNW, APETALA2 (CmAP2), and another candidate gene associated with leaf length (LL), CRYPTOCHROME INTERACTING BASIC HELIX-LOOP-HELIX 1 (CmCIB1), were verified in Chinese chestnut and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Our results showed that CmAP2 affected SNW by negatively regulating cell size. CmCIB1 regulated the elongation of new shoots and leaves by inducing cell elongation, potentially affecting photosynthesis. This study provided valuable information and insights for Chinese chestnut breeding research.