Image_2_Genome-wide analyses using multi-locus models revealed marker-trait associations for major agronomic traits in Sorghum bicolor.tif
Globally, sorghum is the fifth most important cereal crop, and it is a major crop in Ethiopia, where it has a high genetic diversity. The country’s sorghum gene pool contributes significantly to sorghum improvement worldwide. This study aimed to identify genomic regions and candidate genes associated with major agronomic traits in sorghum by using its genetic resources in Ethiopia for a genome-wide association study (GWAS). Phenotypic data of days to flowering (DTF), plant height (PH), panicle length (PALH), panicle width (PAWD), panicle weight (PAWT), and grain yield (GY) were collected from a GWAS panel comprising 324 sorghum accessions grown in three environments. SeqSNP, a targeted genotyping method, was used to genotype the panel using 5,000 gene-based single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. For marker-trait association (MTA) analyses, fixed and random model circulating probability unification (FarmCPU), and Bayesian-information and linkage-disequilibrium iteratively nested keyway (BLINK) models were used. In all traits, high phenotypic variation was observed, with broad-sense heritability ranging from 0.32 (for GY) to 0.90 (for PALH). A population structure, principal component analysis, and kinship analysis revealed that the accessions could be divided into two groups. In total, 54 MTAs were identified, 11 of which were detected by both BLINK and farmCPU. MTAs identified for each trait ranged from five (PAWT and GY) to fourteen (PH) representing both novel and previously identified quantitative trait loci (QTLs). Three SNPs were associated with more than one trait, including a SNP within the Sobic.004G189200 gene that was associated with PH and PAWT. Major effect SNP loci, Sbi2393610 (PVE = 23.3%), Sbi10438246 (PVE = 35.2%), Sbi17789352 (PVE = 11.9%) and Sbi30169733 (PVE = 18.9%) on chromosomes 1, 3, 5 and 9 that showed strong association signals for PAWD, DTF, GY and PALH, respectively, were major findings of this study. The SNP markers and candidate genes identified in this study provide insights into the genetic control of grain yield and related agronomic traits, and once validated, the markers could be used in genomics-led breeding.