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Open Access Research article

Identification of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and analysis of Linkage Disequilibrium in sunflower elite inbred lines using the candidate gene approach

Corina M Fusari1, Verónica V Lia12, H Esteban Hopp12, Ruth A Heinz12 and Norma B Paniego1*

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA), Instituto de Biotecnología (CNIA), CC 25, Castelar (B1712WAA), Buenos Aires, Argentina

2 Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

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BMC Plant Biology 2008, 8:7  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-8-7

Published: 23 January 2008



Association analysis is a powerful tool to identify gene loci that may contribute to phenotypic variation. This includes the estimation of nucleotide diversity, the assessment of linkage disequilibrium structure (LD) and the evaluation of selection processes. Trait mapping by allele association requires a high-density map, which could be obtained by the addition of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) and short insertion and/or deletions (indels) to SSR and AFLP genetic maps. Nucleotide diversity analysis of randomly selected candidate regions is a promising approach for the success of association analysis and fine mapping in the sunflower genome. Moreover, knowledge of the distance over which LD persists, in agronomically meaningful sunflower accessions, is important to establish the density of markers and the experimental design for association analysis.


A set of 28 candidate genes related to biotic and abiotic stresses were studied in 19 sunflower inbred lines. A total of 14,348 bp of sequence alignment was analyzed per individual. In average, 1 SNP was found per 69 nucleotides and 38 indels were identified in the complete data set. The mean nucleotide polymorphism was moderate (θ = 0.0056), as expected for inbred materials. The number of haplotypes per region ranged from 1 to 9 (mean = 3.54 ± 1.88). Model-based population structure analysis allowed detection of admixed individuals within the set of accessions examined. Two putative gene pools were identified (G1 and G2), with a large proportion of the inbred lines being assigned to one of them (G1). Consistent with the absence of population sub-structuring, LD for G1 decayed more rapidly (r2 = 0.48 at 643 bp; trend line, pooled data) than the LD trend line for the entire set of 19 individuals (r2 = 0.64 for the same distance).


Knowledge about the patterns of diversity and the genetic relationships between breeding materials could be an invaluable aid in crop improvement strategies. The relatively high frequency of SNPs within the elite inbred lines studied here, along with the predicted extent of LD over distances of 100 kbp (r2~0.1) suggest that high resolution association mapping in sunflower could be achieved with marker densities lower than those usually reported in the literature.