Integrating a newly developed BAC-based physical mapping resource for Lolium perenne with a genome-wide association study across a L. perenne European ecotype collection identified genomic contexts associated with agriculturally important traits

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Abstract

Background and Aims
Lolium perenne (perennial ryegrass) is the most widely cultivated forage and amenity grass species in temperate areas worldwide and there is a need to understand the genetic architectures of key agricultural traits and crop characteristics that deliver wider environmental services. Our aim was to identify genomic regions associated with agriculturally important traits by integrating a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC)-based physical map with a genome-wide association study (GWAS).

Methods
BAC-based physical maps for L. perenne were constructed from ~212 000 high-information-content fingerprints using Fingerprint Contig and Linear Topology Contig software. BAC clones were associated with both BAC-end sequences and a partial minimum tiling path sequence. A panel of 716 L. perenne diploid genotypes from 90 European accessions was assessed in the field over 2 years, and genotyped using a Lolium Infinium SNP array. The GWAS was carried out using a linear mixed model implemented in TASSEL, and extended genomic regions associated with significant markers were identified through integration with the physical map.

Key Results
Between ~3600 and 7500 physical map contigs were derived, depending on the software and probability thresholds used, and integrated with ~35 k sequenced BAC clones to develop a resource predicted to span the majority of the L. perenne genome. From the GWAS, eight different loci were significantly associated with heading date, plant width, plant biomass and water-soluble carbohydrate accumulation, seven of which could be associated with physical map contigs. This allowed the identification of a number of candidate genes.

Conclusions
Combining the physical mapping resource with the GWAS has allowed us to extend the search for candidate genes across larger regions of the L. perenne genome and identified a number of interesting gene model annotations. These physical maps will aid in validating future sequence-based assemblies of the L. perenne genome.

Keywords

  • Lolium perenne, BAC-based physical map, FPC, LTC, GWAS, ecotypes, candidate genes, flowering, heading date, water-soluble carbohydrate, plant width