Pining for Understanding

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Science  05 Jan 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5808, pp. 18
DOI: 10.1126/science.315.5808.18c

The genes underlying complex (and industrially important) traits in pine have long been sought, but the paucity of genetic resources has made this an arduous search. González-Martínez et al. use a population genomic approach to examine the associations between phenotypic traits and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in known genes to identify specific allelic variants underlying solid wood production and wood biochemistry in loblolly pine. In spite of the large genome size in conifers, the high heterozygosity and rapid breakdown of linkage disequilibrium allowed them to identify 20 genes underlying complex polymorphic traits. Although the effects demonstrated for each SNP were relatively low, on the order of 5% (similar to that observed in previously identified quantitative trait loci), combining markers associated with the same trait accounted for 20% of the phenotypic variation and 40% of the additive genetic variance. Besides its potential commercial use in tree breeding, this approach can also be applied to investigations of the evolution and ecological genetics of loblolly pine. — LMZ

Genetics 10.1534/genetics.106.061127 (2006).

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