Genome-wide association studies of callus differentiation for the desert tree, Populus euphratica

Qianru Zhang, Zhifang Su, Yunqian Guo, Shilong Zhang, Libo Jiang, Rongling Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Callus differentiation is a key developmental process in plant regeneration from cells. A better understanding of the genetic architecture of callus differentiation timing can help improve tissue transformation and the efficiency of artificial propagation. In this study, we investigated genotypic variation in callus differentiation capacity among 297 diverse P. euphratica trees sampled from a natural population. We employed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of binary and growth-based parameters to identify loci and characterize the genetic architecture and genetic network underlying regulation of callus differentiation in P. euphratica. The results of this GWAS experiment suggested potential associations controlling whether the callus could differentiate and the process of callus differentiation. We identified multiple significant quantitative trait loci (QTLs), including the genes LOG1 and LOG7 and a locus containing WOX1. We reconstructed a genetic network that visualizes how each QTL interacts uniquely with other variants, and several core QTLs were detected that are involved in the degree of callus differentiation, providing potential targets for selection. This study represents one of the first to identify genetic variants affecting callus differentiation in a forest tree. Our results suggest that callus differentiation may be a typical qualitative-quantitative trait controlled by a major gene as well as polygenes across the genome of P. euphratica. This GWAS will help to design more complex and specific molecular tools for systematically manipulating organ regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1762-1777
Number of pages16
JournalTree Physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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