Open Access Open Badges Research article

Genome-wide distribution of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium in elite sugar beet germplasm

Jinquan Li1, Ann-Katrin Lühmann2, Knuth Weißleder2 and Benjamin Stich1*

Author Affiliations

1 Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-Linné-Weg 10, 50829 Köln, Germany

2 KWS SAAT AG, Grimsehlstr. 31, 37555 Einbeck, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:484  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-484

Published: 4 October 2011



Characterization of population structure and genetic diversity of germplasm is essential for the efficient organization and utilization of breeding material. The objectives of this study were to (i) explore the patterns of population structure in the pollen parent heterotic pool using different methods, (ii) investigate the genome-wide distribution of genetic diversity, and (iii) assess the extent and genome-wide distribution of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in elite sugar beet germplasm.


A total of 264 and 238 inbred lines from the yield type and sugar type inbreds of the pollen parent heterotic gene pools, respectively, which had been genotyped with 328 SNP markers, were used in this study. Two distinct subgroups were detected based on different statistical methods within the elite sugar beet germplasm set, which was in accordance with its breeding history. MCLUST based on principal components, principal coordinates, or lapvectors had high correspondence with the germplasm type information as well as the assignment by STRUCTURE, which indicated that these methods might be alternatives to STRUCTURE for population structure analysis. Gene diversity and modified Roger's distance between the examined germplasm types varied considerably across the genome, which might be due to artificial selection. This observation indicates that population genetic approaches could be used to identify candidate genes for the traits under selection. Due to the fact that r2 > 0.8 is required to detect marker-phenotype association explaining less than 1% of the phenotypic variance, our observation of a low proportion of SNP loci pairs showing such levels of LD suggests that the number of markers has to be dramatically increased for powerful genome-wide association mapping.


We provided a genome-wide distribution map of genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium for the elite sugar beet germplasm, which is useful for the application of genome-wide association mapping in sugar beet as well as the efficient organization of germplasm.