Lorraine Mhoswa, Marja M O’Neill, Makobatjatji M Mphahlele, Caryn N Oates, Kitt G Payn, Bernard Slippers, Alexander A Myburg, Sanushka Naidoo
The galling insect, Leptocybe invasa, causes significant losses in plantations of various Eucalyptus species and hybrids, threatening its economic viability. We applied a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to identify single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers associated with resistance to L. invasa. A total of 563 insect-challenged Eucalyptus grandis trees, from 61 half-sib families, were genotyped using the EUChip60K SNP chip, and we identified 15,445 informative SNP markers in the test population. Multi-locus mixed-model (MLMM) analysis identified 35 SNP markers putatively associated with resistance to L. invasa based on four discreet classes of insect damage scores: (0) not infested, (1) infested showing evidence of oviposition but no gall development, (2) infested with galls on leaves, midribs or petioles and (3) stunting and lethal gall formation. MLMM analysis identified three associated genomic regions on chromosomes 3, 7 and 8 jointly explaining 17.6% of the total phenotypic variation. SNP analysis of a validation population of 494 E. grandis trees confirmed seven SNP markers that were also detected in the initial association analysis. Based on transcriptome profiles of resistant and susceptible genotypes from an independent experiment, we identified several putative candidate genes in associated genomic loci including Nucleotide-binding ARC- domain (NB-ARC) and toll-interleukin-1-receptor-Nucleotide binding signal- Leucine rich repeat (TIR-NBS-LRR) genes. Our results suggest that Leptocybe resistance in E. grandis may be influenced by a few large-effect loci in combination with minor effect loci segregating in our test and validation populations.
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