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Genome-Wide Association Study Identifies Genomic Regions for Important Morpho-Agronomic Traits in Mesoamerican Common Bean


The population growth trend in recent decades has resulted in continuing efforts to guarantee food security in which leguminous plants, such as the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), play a particularly important role as they are relatively cheap and have high nutritional value. To meet this demand for food, the main target for genetic improvement programs is to increase productivity, which is a complex quantitative trait influenced by many component traits. This research aims to identify Quantitative Trait Nucleotides (QTNs) associated with productivity and its components using multi-locus genome-wide association studies. Ten morpho-agronomic traits [plant height (PH), first pod insertion height (FPIH), number of nodules (NN), pod length (PL), total number of pods per plant (NPP), number of locules per pod (LP), number of seeds per pod (SP), total seed weight per plant (TSW), 100-seed weight (W100), and grain yield (YLD)] were evaluated in four environments for 178 Mesoamerican common bean domesticated accessions belonging to the Brazilian Diversity Panel. In order to identify stable QTNs, only those identified by multiple methods (mrMLM, FASTmrMLM, pLARmEB, and ISIS EM-BLASSO) or in multiple environments were selected. Among the identified QTNs, 64 were detected at least thrice by different methods or in different environments, and 39 showed significant phenotypic differences between their corresponding alleles. The alleles that positively increased the corresponding traits, except PH (for which lower values are desired), were considered favorable alleles. The most influenced trait by the accumulation of favorable alleles was PH, showing a 51.7% reduction, while NN, TSW, YLD, FPIH, and NPP increased between 18 and 34%. Identifying QTNs in several environments (four environments and overall adjusted mean) and by multiple methods reinforces the reliability of the associations obtained and the importance of conducting these studies in multiple environments. Using these QTNs through molecular techniques for genetic improvement, such as marker-assisted selection or genomic selection, can be a strategy to increase common bean production.

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