Plastic expression of heterochrony quantitative trait loci (hQTLs) for leaf growth in the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Libo Jiang, Jose A. Clavijo, Lidan Sun, Xuli Zhu, Mehul S. Bhakta, Salvador A. Gezan, Melissa Carvalho, C. Eduardo Vallejos, Rongling Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Heterochrony, that is, evolutionary changes in the relative timing of developmental events and processes, has emerged as a key concept that links evolution and development. Genes associated with heterochrony encode molecular components of developmental timing mechanisms. However, our understanding of how heterochrony genes alter the expression of heterochrony in response to environmental changes remains very limited. We applied functional mapping to find quantitative trait loci (QTLs) responsible for growth trajectories of leaf area and leaf mass in the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown in two contrasting environments. We identified three major QTLs pleiotropically expressed under the two environments. Further characterization of the temporal pattern of these QTLs indicates that they are heterochrony QTLs (hQTLs) in terms of their role in influencing four heterochronic parameters: the timing of the inflection point, the timing of maximum acceleration and deceleration, and the duration of linear growth. The pattern of gene action by the hQTLs on each parameter was unique, being environmentally dependent and varying between two allometrically related leaf growth traits. These results provide new insights into the complexity of genetic mechanisms that control trait formation in plants and provide novel findings that will be of use in studying the evolutionary trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)872-882
Number of pages11
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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