Genetic architecture behind developmental and seasonal control of tree growth and wood properties in Norway spruce

Front Plant Sci. 2022 Aug 9;13:927673. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.927673. eCollection 2022.


Genetic control of tree growth and wood formation varies depending on the age of the tree and the time of the year. Single-locus, multi-locus, and multi-trait genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were conducted on 34 growth and wood property traits in 1,303 Norway spruce individuals using exome capture to cover ~130K single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). GWAS identified associations to the different wood traits in a total of 85 gene models, and several of these were validated in a progenitor population. A multi-locus GWAS model identified more SNPs associated with the studied traits than single-locus or multivariate models. Changes in tree age and annual season influenced the genetic architecture of growth and wood properties in unique ways, manifested by non-overlapping SNP loci. In addition to completely novel candidate genes, SNPs were located in genes previously associated with wood formation, such as cellulose synthases and a NAC transcription factor, but that have not been earlier linked to seasonal or age-dependent regulation of wood properties. Interestingly, SNPs associated with the width of the year rings were identified in homologs of Arabidopsis thaliana BARELY ANY MERISTEM 1 and rice BIG GRAIN 1, which have been previously shown to control cell division and biomass production. The results provide tools for future Norway spruce breeding and functional studies.

PMID:36017254 | PMC:PMC9396349 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2022.927673


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