Open Access Research article

Genetic analysis of safflower domestication

Stephanie A Pearl13, John E Bowers1, Sebastian Reyes-Chin-Wo2, Richard W Michelmore2 and John M Burke1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Plant Biology, Miller Plant Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

2 The Genome Center, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA

3 Center for Applied Genetic Technologies, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Plant Biology 2014, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-43

Published: 6 February 2014

Abstract

Background

Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius L.) is an oilseed crop in the Compositae (a.k.a. Asteraceae) that is valued for its oils rich in unsaturated fatty acids. Here, we present an analysis of the genetic architecture of safflower domestication and compare our findings to those from sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), an independently domesticated oilseed crop within the same family.

We mapped quantitative trait loci (QTL) underlying 24 domestication-related traits in progeny from a cross between safflower and its wild progenitor, Carthamus palaestinus Eig. Also, we compared QTL positions in safflower against those that have been previously identified in cultivated x wild sunflower crosses to identify instances of colocalization.

Results

We mapped 61 QTL, the vast majority of which (59) exhibited minor or moderate phenotypic effects. The two large-effect QTL corresponded to one each for flower color and leaf spininess. A total of 14 safflower QTL colocalized with previously reported sunflower QTL for the same traits. Of these, QTL for three traits (days to flower, achene length, and number of selfed seed) had cultivar alleles that conferred effects in the same direction in both species.

Conclusions

As has been observed in sunflower, and unlike many other crops, our results suggest that the genetics of safflower domestication is quite complex. Moreover, our comparative mapping results indicate that safflower and sunflower exhibit numerous instances of QTL colocalization, suggesting that parallel trait transitions during domestication may have been driven, at least in part, by parallel genotypic evolution at some of the same underlying genes.

Keywords:
Carthamus; Domestication; Comparative genetic mapping; Helianthus; Parallel evolution; QTL analysis; Safflower; Sunflower