|KANTAR, MICHAEL - University Of Hawaii
|VORSA, NICHOLI - Rutgers University
Submitted to: G3, Genes/Genomes/Genetics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/1/2022
Publication Date: 8/9/2022
Citation: Neyhart, J.L., Kantar, M.B., Zalapa, J.E., Vorsa, N. 2022. Genomic-environmental associations in wild cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon ait.). G3, Genes/Genomes/Genetics. https://doi.org/10.1093/g3journal/jkac203.
Interpretive Summary: Wild plant populations become adapted to their local environment through natural selection. This adaptation may confer tolerance to environmental stresses, such as extreme temperatures, precipitation, or variable soil conditions, which may be influenced, in part, by genetics. Identifying the genetic basis of local adaptation could help accelerate the transfer of useful genetic variation from crop wild relatives into elite cultivars in plant breeding programs. This is particularly appealing for long-lived woody perennial crops such as American cranberry, the cultivation of which is challenged by environmental stresses such as heat, cold, drought, and flooding. In this study, we used several populations of wild cranberry, long-term climate data from the regions where these populations were collected, and DNA markers to identify potential genes associated with local environmental conditions. Among 126 significant DNA marker-environment correlations that we detected, we identified several that tagged genes with known influence on plant response to environment in other species. The identification of such genes with potential adaptive function may help accelerate the breeding of more stress-tolerant cultivars.
Technical Abstract: Understanding the genetic basis of local adaptation in natural plant populations, particularly crop wild relatives, may be highly useful for plant breeding. By characterizing genetic variation for adaptation to potentially stressful environmental conditions, breeders can make targeted use of crop wild relatives to develop cultivars for novel or changing environments. This is especially appealing for improving long-lived woody perennial crops such as American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the cultivation of which is challenged by biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we used environmental association analyses in a collection of 111 wild cranberry accessions to identify potentially adaptive genomic regions for a range of bioclimatic and soil conditions. We detected 126 significant associations between SNP marker loci and environmental variables describing temperature, precipitation, and soil attributes. Many of these markers tagged genes with functional annotations strongly suggesting a role in adaptation to biotic or abiotic conditions. Despite relatively low genetic variation in cranberry, our results suggest that local adaptation to divergent environments is indeed present, and the identification of potentially adaptive genetic variation may enable a selective use of this germplasm for breeding more stress-tolerant cultivars.