QTL mapping for flowering-time and photoperiod insensitivity of cotton Gossypium darwinii Watt.
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Most wild and semi-wild species of the genus Gossypium are exhibit photoperiod-sensitive flowering. The wild germplasm cotton is a valuable source of genes for genetic improvement of modern cotton cultivars. A bi-parental cotton population segregating for photoperiodic flowering was developed by crossing a photoperiod insensitive irradiation mutant line with its pre-mutagenesis photoperiodic wild-type G. darwinii Watt genotype. Individuals from the F2 and F3 generations were grown with their parental lines and F1 hybrid progeny in the long day and short night summer condition (natural day-length) of Uzbekistan to evaluate photoperiod sensitivity, i.e., flowering-time during the seasons 2008-2009. Through genotyping the individuals of this bi-parental population segregating for flowering-time, linkage maps were constructed using 212 simple-sequence repeat (SSR) and three cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS) markers. Six QTLs directly associated with flowering-time and photoperiodic flowering were discovered in the F2 population, whereas eight QTLs were identified in the F3 population. Two QTLs controlling photoperiodic flowering and duration of flowering were common in both populations. In silico annotations of the flanking DNA sequences of mapped SSRs from sequenced cotton (G. hirsutum L.) genome database has identified several potential 'candidate' genes that are known to be associated with regulation of flowering characteristics of plants. The outcome of this research will expand our understanding of the genetic and molecular mechanisms of photoperiodic flowering. Identified markers should be useful for marker-assisted selection in cotton breeding to improve early flowering characteristics.