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Heredity (Edinb). 2003 Mar;90(3):228-35.

Mapping quantitative trait loci underlying triploid endosperm traits.

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Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


Endosperm, which is derived from two polar nuclei fusing with one sperm, is a triploid tissue in cereals. Endosperm tissue determines the grain quality of cereals. Improving grain quality is one of the important breeding objectives in cereals. However, current statistical methods for mapping quantitative trait loci (QTL) under diploid genetic control have not been effective for dealing with endosperm traits because of the complexity of their triploid inheritance. In this paper, we derive for the first time the conditional probabilities of F(3) endosperm QTL genotypes given different flanking marker genotypes in F(2) plants. Using these probabilities, we develop a multiple linear regression method implemented via the iteratively reweighted least-squares (IRWLS) algorithm and a maximum likelihood method (ML) implemented via the expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm to map QTL underlying endosperm traits. We use the mean value of endosperm traits of F(3) seeds as the dependent variable and the expectations of genotypic indicators for additive and dominance effect of a putative QTL flanked by a pair of markers as independent variables for IRWLS mapping. However, if an endosperm trait is measured quantitatively using a single endosperm sample, the ML mapping method can be used to separate the two dominance effects. Efficiency of the methods is verified through extensive Monte Carlo simulation studies. Results of simulation show that the proposed methods provide accurate estimates of both the QTL effects and locations with very high statistical power. With these methods, we are now ready to map endosperm traits, as we can for regular quantitative trait under diploid control.

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