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AFLP-based genetic mapping of the “bud-flowering” trait in heather (Calluna vulgaris).

Calluna vulgaris is one of the most important landscaping plants produced in Germany. Its enormous economic success is due to the prolonged flower attractiveness of mutants in flower morphology, the so-called bud-bloomers. In this study, we present the first genetic linkage map of C. vulgaris in which we mapped a locus of the economically highly desired trait “flower type”.

The map was constructed in JoinMap 4.1. using 535 AFLP markers from a single mapping population. A large fraction (40%) of markers showed distorted segregation. To test the effect of segregation distortion on linkage estimation, these markers were sorted regarding their segregation ratio and added in groups to the data set. The plausibility of group formation was evaluated by comparison of the “two-way pseudo-testcross” and the “integrated” mapping approach. Furthermore, regression mapping was compared to the multipoint-likelihood algorithm. The majority of maps constructed by different combinations of these methods consisted of eight linkage groups corresponding to the chromosome number of C. vulgaris.

All maps confirmed the independent inheritance of the most important horticultural traits “flower type”, “flower colour”, and “leaf colour”. An AFLP marker for the most important breeding target “flower type” was identified. The presented genetic map of C. vulgaris can now serve as a basis for further molecular marker selection and map-based cloning of the candidate gene encoding the unique flower architecture of C. vulgaris bud-bloomers.

Behrend, A.; Borchert, Th.; Spiller, M.; Hohe, A. 2013. AFLP-based genetic mapping of the “bud-flowering” trait in heather (Calluna vulgaris). BMC Genetics, 14: 64.