Open Access Research article

QTL mapping reveals the genetic architecture of loci affecting pre- and post-zygotic isolating barriers in Louisiana Iris

Evangeline S Ballerini1, Amanda N Brothers1*, Shunxue Tang2, Steven J Knapp3, Amy Bouck4, Sunni J Taylor5, Michael L Arnold1 and Noland H Martin5

  • * Corresponding author: Amanda N Brothers

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

2 Dow AgroSciences LLC, Indianapolis, IN, USA

3 Monsanto, Woodland, CA, USA

4 Illumina, Inc., San Diego, CA, USA

5 Department of Biology, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX, USA

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BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-91

Published: 15 June 2012



Hybridization among Louisiana Irises has been well established and the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation is known to affect the potential for and the directionality of introgression between taxa. Here we use co-dominant markers to identify regions where QTL are located both within and between backcross maps to compare the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation and fitness traits across treatments and years.


QTL mapping was used to elucidate the genetic architecture of reproductive isolation between Iris fulva and Iris brevicaulis. Homologous co-dominant EST-SSR markers scored in two backcross populations between I. fulva and I. brevicaulis were used to generate genetic linkage maps. These were used as the framework for mapping QTL associated with variation in 11 phenotypic traits likely responsible for reproductive isolation and fitness. QTL were dispersed throughout the genome, with the exception of one region of a single linkage group (LG) where QTL for flowering time, sterility, and fruit production clustered. In most cases, homologous QTL were not identified in both backcross populations, however, homologous QTL for flowering time, number of growth points per rhizome, number of nodes per inflorescence, and number of flowers per node were identified on several linkage groups.


Two different traits affecting reproductive isolation, flowering time and sterility, exhibit different genetic architectures, with numerous QTL across the Iris genome controlling flowering time and fewer, less distributed QTL affecting sterility. QTL for traits affecting fitness are largely distributed across the genome with occasional overlap, especially on LG 4, where several QTL increasing fitness and decreasing sterility cluster. Given the distribution and effect direction of QTL affecting reproductive isolation and fitness, we have predicted genomic regions where introgression may be more likely to occur (those regions associated with an increase in fitness and unlinked to loci controlling reproductive isolation) and those that are less likely to exhibit introgression (those regions linked to traits decreasing fitness and reproductive isolation).