High-Throughput Phenotyping and Random Regression Models Reveal Temporal Genetic Control of Soybean Biomass Production

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Sep 3;12:715983. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.715983. eCollection 2021.


Understanding temporal accumulation of soybean above-ground biomass (AGB) has the potential to contribute to yield gains and the development of stress-resilient cultivars. Our main objectives were to develop a high-throughput phenotyping method to predict soybean AGB over time and to reveal its temporal quantitative genomic properties. A subset of the SoyNAM population (n = 383) was grown in multi-environment trials and destructive AGB measurements were collected along with multispectral and RGB imaging from 27 to 83 days after planting (DAP). We used machine-learning methods for phenotypic prediction of AGB, genomic prediction of breeding values, and genome-wide association studies (GWAS) based on random regression models (RRM). RRM enable the study of changes in genetic variability over time and further allow selection of individuals when aiming to alter the general response shapes over time. AGB phenotypic predictions were high (R 2 = 0.92-0.94). Narrow-sense heritabilities estimated over time ranged from low to moderate (from 0.02 at 44 DAP to 0.28 at 33 DAP). AGB from adjacent DAP had highest genetic correlations compared to those DAP further apart. We observed high accuracies and low biases of prediction indicating that genomic breeding values for AGB can be predicted over specific time intervals. Genomic regions associated with AGB varied with time, and no genetic markers were significant in all time points evaluated. Thus, RRM seem a powerful tool for modeling the temporal genetic architecture of soybean AGB and can provide useful information for crop improvement. This study provides a basis for future studies to combine phenotyping and genomic analyses to understand the genetic architecture of complex longitudinal traits in plants.

PMID:34539708 | PMC:PMC8446606 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2021.715983


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