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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Expression quantitative trait loci infer the regulation of isoflavone accumulation in soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) seed

Yan Wang, Yingpeng Han, Weili Teng, Xue Zhao, Yongguang Li, Lin Wu, Dongmei Li and Wenbin Li*

Author Affiliations

Key Laboratory of Soybean Biology in Chinese Ministry of Education (key Laboratory of Soybean Biology and Breeding/Genetics of Chinese Agriculture Ministry), Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin 150030, China

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:680  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-680

Published: 13 August 2014



Mapping expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) of targeted genes represents a powerful and widely adopted approach to identify putative regulatory variants. Linking regulation differences to specific genes might assist in the identification of networks and interactions. The objective of this study is to identify eQTL underlying expression of four gene families encoding isoflavone synthetic enzymes involved in the phenylpropanoid pathway, which are phenylalanine ammonia-lyase (PAL; EC, chalcone synthase (CHS; EC, 2-hydroxyisoflavanone synthase (IFS; EC1.14.13.136) and flavanone 3-hydroxylase (F3H; EC A population of 130 recombinant inbred lines (F5:11), derived from a cross between soybean cultivar ‘Zhongdou 27’ (high isoflavone) and ‘Jiunong 20’ (low isoflavone), and a total of 194 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers were used in this study. Overlapped loci of eQTLs and phenotypic QTLs (pQTLs) were analyzed to identify the potential candidate genes underlying the accumulation of isoflavone in soybean seed.


Thirty three eQTLs (thirteen cis-eQTLs and twenty trans-eQTLs) underlying the transcript abundance of the four gene families were identified on fifteen chromosomes. The eQTLs between Satt278-Sat_134, Sat_134-Sct_010 and Satt149-Sat_234 underlie the expression of both IFS and CHS genes. Five eQTL intervals were overlapped with pQTLs. A total of eleven candidate genes within the overlapped eQTL and pQTL were identified.


These results will be useful for the development of marker-assisted selection to breed soybean cultivars with high or low isoflavone contents and for map-based cloning of new isoflavone related genes.

Soybean; eQTL; Isoflavone; pQTL; Candidate genes