Genetic mapping of QTLs affecting tree growth and architecture in Populus: implication for ideotype breeding
A segregated F2 progeny derived from two highly divergent poplar species, Populus trichocarpa and P. deltoides, was used to evaluate the genetic basis of canopy structure and function in a clonally replicated plantation. The QTLs of large effect on growth, branch, and leaf traits were identified using the Populus linkage map constructed by 343 molecular markers. Stem height and harvest index appeared to be under the control of few QTLs with major effects, whereas variation in stem basal area, volume, and dry weight might be due to many more QTLs. Branch and leaf traits on sylleptics tended to include more QTLs with major effects than those on proleptics. In the environment where the pedigree was tested, sylleptics were very frequent in the P. trichocarpa parent but rare in the P. deltoides parent. For sylleptic traits for which two or more QTLs were identified, however, increases in the trait values were conditioned not only by the P. trichocarpa alleles, but also by the P. deltoides alleles. Similar findings were found for traits on proleptics that were differently expressed between the two parents. For both sylleptic and proleptic branch types, dominance (ranging from partial to over) was observed. The QTLs on specific linkage groups were found to be responsible for relationships between stem growth and its developmental components. Similar QTL clustering was also observed for morphological or developmental integration in poplar, i.e., traits with similar developmental origins are more strongly correlated with one another than traits with different developmental origins. The implications of these molecular genetic results for ideotype breeding of poplars are discussed.