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Front Plant Sci. 2012 Jun 26;3:129. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2012.00129. eCollection 2012.

A candidate gene-based association study of tocopherol content and composition in rapeseed (Brassica napus).

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Faculty of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Plant Breeding Institute, Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel, Germany.

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  • Front Plant Sci. 2013;4:69.


Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) is the most important oil crop of temperate climates. Rapeseed oil contains tocopherols, also known as vitamin E, which is an indispensable nutrient for humans and animals due to its antioxidant and radical scavenging abilities. Moreover, tocopherols are also important for the oxidative stability of vegetable oils. Therefore, seed oil with increased tocopherol content or altered tocopherol composition is a target for breeding. We investigated the role of nucleotide variations within candidate genes from the tocopherol biosynthesis pathway. Field trials were carried out with 229 accessions from a worldwide B. napus collection which was divided into two panels of 96 and 133 accessions. Seed tocopherol content and composition were measured by HPLC. High heritabilities were found for both traits, ranging from 0.62 to 0.94. We identified polymorphisms by sequencing selected regions of the tocopherol genes from the 96 accession panel. Subsequently, we determined the population structure (Q) and relative kinship (K) as detected by genotyping with genome-wide distributed SSR markers. Association studies were performed using two models, the structure-based GLM + Q and the PK-mixed model. Between 26 and 12 polymorphisms within two genes (BnaX.VTE3.a, BnaA.PDS1.c) were significantly associated with tocopherol traits. The SNPs explained up to 16.93% of the genetic variance for tocopherol composition and up to 10.48% for total tocopherol content. Based on the sequence information we designed CAPS markers for genotyping the 133 accessions from the second panel. Significant associations with various tocopherol traits confirmed the results from the first experiment. We demonstrate that the polymorphisms within the tocopherol genes clearly impact tocopherol content and composition in B. napus seeds. We suggest that these nucleotide variations may be used as selectable markers for breeding rapeseed with enhanced tocopherol quality.


Brassica napus; SNP identification; association study; candidate genes; tocopherol (vitamin E)

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