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Nested association mapping of important agronomic traits in three interspecific soybean populations


Key message

Glycine soja germplasm can be used to successfully introduce new alleles with the potential to add valuable new genetic diversity to the current elite soybean gene pool.


Given the demonstrated narrow genetic base of the US soybean production, it is essential to identify beneficial alleles from exotic germplasm, such as wild soybean, to enhance genetic gain for favorable traits. Nested association mapping (NAM) is an approach to population development that permits the comparison of allelic effects of the same QTL in multiple parents. Seed yield, plant maturity, plant height and plant lodging were evaluated in a NAM panel consisting of 392 recombinant inbred lines derived from three biparental interspecific soybean populations in eight environments during 2016 and 2017. Nested association mapping, combined with linkage mapping, identified three major QTL for plant maturity in chromosomes 6, 11 and 12 associated with alleles from wild soybean resulting in significant increases in days to maturity. A significant QTL for plant height was identified on chromosome 13 with the allele increasing plant height derived from wild soybean. A significant grain yield QTL was detected on chromosome 17, and the allele from Glycine soja had a positive effect of 166 kg ha−1; RIL’s with the wild soybean allele yielded on average 6% more than the lines carrying the Glycine max allele. These findings demonstrate the usefulness and potential of alleles from wild soybean germplasm to enhance important agronomic traits in a soybean breeding program.

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The authors would like to acknowledge funding from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and the United Soybean Board. We also thank personnel from the soybean breeding program at the University of Missouri for their time and effort in preparing and conducting the experiments in 2016 and 2017.

Author information

EB conducted field evaluations and data analysis; AMS acquired funding and supervised the work; QS performed the genotyping; RN developed the initial populations; GS revised the manuscript; JDG, TB, and JD provided statistical expertise and revised the manuscript; EB, AMS, and JG wrote the paper. All authors read the manuscript.

Correspondence to Andrew M. Scaboo.

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Randall Nelson was retired from USDA-Agricultural Research Service.

Communicated by Albrecht E. Melchinger.

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Beche, E., Gillman, J.D., Song, Q. et al. Nested association mapping of important agronomic traits in three interspecific soybean populations. Theor Appl Genet 133, 1039–1054 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-019-03529-4

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