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Artificial selection reveals complex genetic architecture of shoot branching and its response to nitrate supply in Arabidopsis.

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Readshaw, Anne 
Kania, Urszula 
de Jong, Maaike 


Quantitative traits may be controlled by many loci, many alleles at each locus, and subject to genotype-by-environment interactions, making them difficult to map. One example of such a complex trait is shoot branching in the model plant Arabidopsis, and its plasticity in response to nitrate. Here, we use artificial selection under contrasting nitrate supplies to dissect the genetic architecture of this complex trait, where loci identified by association mapping failed to explain heritability estimates. We found a consistent response to selection for high branching, with correlated responses in other traits such as plasticity and flowering time. Genome-wide scans for selection and simulations suggest that at least tens of loci control this trait, with a distinct genetic architecture between low and high nitrate treatments. While signals of selection could be detected in the populations selected for high branching on low nitrate, there was very little overlap in the regions selected in three independent populations. Thus the regulatory network controlling shoot branching can be tuned in different ways to give similar phenotypes.


Funder: FP7 Ideas: European Research Council; funder-id:; Grant(s): 294514


Nitrates, Arabidopsis, Alleles, Genotype, Multifactorial Inheritance

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PLoS Genet

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)
European Research Council (294514)