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BMC Genet. 2013 Feb 2;14:4. doi: 10.1186/1471-2156-14-4.

QTL mapping and epistatic interaction analysis in asparagus bean for several characterized and novel horticulturally important traits.

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  • 1Institute of Vegetables, Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, 310021, Hangzhou, People's Republic of China.



Asparagus bean (Vigna. unguiculata. ssp sesquipedalis) is a subspecies and special vegetable type of cowpea (Vigna. unguiculata L. Walp.) important in Asia. Genetic basis of horticulturally important traits of asparagus bean is still poorly understood, hindering the utilization of targeted, DNA marker-assisted breeding in this crop. Here we report the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) and epistatic interactions for four horticultural traits, namely, days to first flowering (FLD), nodes to first flower (NFF), leaf senescence (LS) and pod number per plant (PN) using a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population of asparagus bean.


A similar genetic mode of one major QTL plus a few minor QTLs was found to dominate each of the four traits, with the number of QTLs for individual traits ranging from three to four. These QTLs were distributed on 7 of the 11 chromosomes. Major QTLs for FLD, NFF and LS were co-localized on LG 11, indicative of tight linkage. Genome wide epistasis analysis detected two and one interactive locus pairs that significantly affect FLD and LS, respectively, and the epistatic QTLs for FLD appeared to work in different ways. Synteny based comparison of QTL locations revealed conservation of chromosome regions controlling these traits in related legume crops.


Major, minor, and epistatic QTLs were found to contribute to the inheritance of the FLD, NFF, LS, and PN. Positions of many of these QTLs are conserved among closely related legume species, indicating common mechanisms they share. To our best knowledge, this is the first QTL mapping report using an asparagus bean × asparagus bean intervarietal population and provides marker-trait associations for marker-assisted approaches to selection.

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