Construction of a DArT-seq marker–based genetic linkage map and identification of QTLs for yield in tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze)


As the second most consumed non-alcoholic beverage, the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) has high economic value. Tea improvement efforts that largely target economic traits such as yield have traditionally relied on conventional breeding approaches. The tea plant’s perennial nature and its long generation time make conventional approaches time-consuming and labour-intensive. Biotechnology provides a complementary tool for accelerating tea improvement programmes through marker-assisted selection (MAS). Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) identified on linkage maps are an essential prerequisite to the implementation of MAS. QTL analysis was performed on yield data over 3 years (2010–2012) across two sites (Timbilil and Kangaita, in Kenya), based on two parental framework linkage maps arising from a population of 261 F1 progeny, derived from a reciprocal cross between GW Ejulu and TRFK 303/577. The maps contain 15 linkage groups each, this corresponds to the haploid chromosome number of tea (2n=2x=30). The total length of the parental maps was 1028.1 cM for GW Ejulu and 1026.6 cM for TRFK 303/577 with an average locus spacing of 5.5 cM and 5.4 cM, respectively. A total of 13 QTLs were identified over the three measurement years. The 13 QTLs had LOD values ranging from 1.98 to 7.24 and explained 3.4% to 12% of the phenotypic variation. The two sites had seven mutually detected QTLs.

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The authors thank the staff of Crop Improvement and Management, Tea Research Institute, who assisted in phenotypic data collection and extraction of DNA from the mapping population. We acknowledge Mr. Richard Mose for his critical reading and feedback on this manuscript.

The first author acknowledges the financial assistance of the Carnegie Regional Initiative in Science and Education (Carnegie-RISE) through the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products (SABINA) network. The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) towards this research is hereby acknowledged by the first author. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF, Carnegie-RISE or SABINA.

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The DArT sequences have been submitted to NCBI: BioProject PRJNA398959 (Suppl. Table 4)

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Correspondence to M. P. Malebe.

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Malebe, M.P., Koech, R.K., Mbanjo, E.G.N. et al. Construction of a DArT-seq marker–based genetic linkage map and identification of QTLs for yield in tea (Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze). Tree Genetics & Genomes 17, 9 (2021).

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  • Yield
  • QTL
  • NGS marker
  • Linkage map
  • Camellia sinensis