Genome wide association study of agronomic and seed traits in a world collection of proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.)

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Background: The climate crisis threatens sustainability of crop production worldwide. Crop diversification may enhance food security while reducing the negative impacts of climate change. Proso millet (Panicum milaceum L.) is a minor cereal crop which holds potential for diversification and adaptation to different environmental conditions. In this study, we assembled a world collection of proso millet consisting of 88 varieties and landraces to investigate its genomic and phenotypic diversity for seed traits, and to identify marker-trait associations (MTA). Results: Sequencing of restriction-site associated DNA fragments yielded 494 million reads and 2,412 high quality single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). SNPs were used to study the diversity in the collection and perform a genome wide association study (GWAS). A genotypic diversity analysis separated accessions originating in Western Europe, Eastern Asia and Americas from accessions sampled in Southern Asia, Western Asia, and Africa. A Bayesian structure analysis reported four cryptic genetic groups, showing that landraces accessions had a significant level of admixture and that most of the improved proso millet materials clustered separately from landraces. The collection was highly diverse for seed traits, with color varying from white to dark brown and width spanning from 1.8 to 2.6 mm. A GWAS study for seed morphology traits identified 10 MTAs. In addition, we identified three MTAs for agronomic traits that were previously measured on the collection. Conclusion: Using genomics and automated seed phenotyping, we elucidated phylogenetic relationships and seed diversity in a global millet collection. Overall, we identified 13 MTAs for key agronomic and seed traits indicating the presence of alleles with potential for application in proso breeding programs.




Boukail, S., Macharia, M., Miculan, M., Masoni, A., Calamai, A., Palchetti, E., & Dell’Acqua, M. (2021). Genome wide association study of agronomic and seed traits in a world collection of proso millet (Panicum miliaceum L.). BMC Plant Biology, 21(1).

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