Genotype X Environment Interaction in Qtl Analysis of an Intervarietal Almond Cross by Means of Genetic-Markers
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Besides QTL location and the estimation of gene effects, QTL analysis based on genetic markers could be used to comprehensively investigate quantitative trait-related phenomena such as pleiotropy, gene interactions, heterosis, and genotype-by-environment interaction (G x E). Given that the G x E interaction is of great relevance in tree improvement, the objective of the research presented here was to study the effect of years on QTL detection for 15 quantitative traits by means of isozymatic markers in a large progeny group of an intervarietal cross of almond. At least 17 putative QTLs were detected, 3 of which had alleles with opposite effects to those predicted from the parental genotypes. Only 3 QTLs behaved homogeneously over the years. Three possible causes are discussed in relation to this lack of stability: the power of the test statistic being used, the low contribution of the QTL to the genetic variation of the trait, and a differential gene expression dependent on the year (G x E). Most cases showing lack of stability involved traits whose heritability estimates change drastically from year to year and/or whose correlation coefficients between years are low, suggesting the presence of G x E as the most likely cause. A marker-assisted selection scheme to improve late flowering and short flowering duration is suggested for an early and wide screening of the progeny.