QTL analyses of soybean root system architecture revealed genetic relationships with shoot-related traits

Zhili Wang, Cheng Huang, Yongchao Niu, Wai-Shing Yung, Zhixia Xiao, Fuk-Ling Wong, Mingkun Huang, Xin Wang, Chun-Kuen Man, Ching-Ching Sze, Ailin Liu, Qianwen Wang, Yinglong Chen, Shuo Liu, Cunxiang Wu, Lifeng Liu, Wensheng Hou, Tianfu Han, Man-Wah Li, Hon-Ming Lam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The genetic basis of soybean root system architecture (RSA) and the genetic relationship between shoot and RSA were revealed by integrating data from recombinant inbred population grafting and QTL mapping. Variations in root system architecture (RSA) affect the functions of roots and thus play vital roles in plant adaptations and agricultural productivity. The aim of this study was to unravel the genetic relationship between RSA traits and shoot-related traits in soybean. This study characterized RSA variability at seedling stage in a recombinant inbred population, derived from a cross between cultivated soybean C08 and wild soybean W05, and performed high-resolution quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping. In total, 34 and 41 QTLs were detected for RSA-related and shoot-related traits, respectively, constituting eight QTL clusters. Significant QTL correspondence was found between shoot biomass and RSA-related traits, consistent with significant correlations between these phenotypes. RSA-related QTLs also overlapped with selection regions in the genome, suggesting the cultivar RSA could be a partial consequence of domestication. Using reciprocal grafting, we confirmed that shoot-derived signals affected root development and the effects were controlled by multiple loci. Meanwhile, RSA-related QTLs were found to co-localize with four soybean flowering-time loci. Consistent with the phenotypes of the parental lines of our RI population, diminishing the function of flowering controlling E1 family through RNA interference (RNAi) led to reduced root growth. This implies that the flowering time-related genes within the RSA-related QTLs are actually contributing to RSA. To conclude, this study identified the QTLs that determine RSA through controlling root growth indirectly via regulating shoot functions, and discovered superior alleles from wild soybean that could be used to improve the root structure in existing soybean cultivars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4507-4522
Number of pages16
JournalTAG. Theoretical and applied genetics. Theoretische und angewandte Genetik
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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