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Construction of High-Density Genetic Maps and Detection of QTLs Associated With Huanglongbing Tolerance in Citrus.


Huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus greening, is the most devastating disease in citrus worldwide. Commercial citrus varieties including sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) are highly susceptible to HLB, and trifoliate orange (Poncirus trifoliata, a close Citrus relative) is widely considered resistant or highly tolerant to HLB. In this study, an intergeneric F1 population of sweet orange and trifoliate orange was genotyped by Genotyping-by-Sequencing, and high-density SNP-based genetic maps were constructed separately for trifoliate orange and sweet orange. The two genetic maps exhibited high synteny and high coverage of the citrus genome. Progenies of the F1 population and their parents were planted in a replicated field trial, exposed to intense HLB pressure for 3 years, and then evaluated for susceptibility to HLB over 2 years. The F1 population exhibited a wide range in severity of HLB foliar symptom and canopy damage. Genome-wide QTL analysis based on the phenotypic data of foliar symptom and canopy damage in 2 years identified three clusters of repeatable QTLs in trifoliate orange linkage groups LG-t6, LG-t8 and LG-t9. Co-localization of QTLs for two traits was observed within all three regions. Additionally, one cluster of QTLs in sweet orange (linkage group LG-s7) was also detected. The majority of the identified QTLs each explained 18-30% of the phenotypic variation, indicating their major role in determining HLB responses. These results show, for the first time, a quantitative genetic nature yet the presence of major loci for the HLB tolerance in trifoliate orange. The results suggest that sweet orange also contains useful genetic factor(s) for improving HLB tolerance in commercial citrus varieties. Findings from this study should be very valuable and timely to researchers worldwide as they are hastily searching for genetic solutions to the devastating HLB crisis through breeding, genetic engineering, or genome editing.

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