Molecular genetics of growth and development in populus. IV. Mapping QTLs with large effects on growth, form, and phenology traits in a forest tree.
H D Bradshaw, Jr, R F Stettler


We have mapped quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for commercially important traits (stem growth and form) and an adaptive trait (spring leaf flush) in a Populus F2 generation derived from a cross between interspecific F1 hybrids (P. trichocarpa x P. deltoides). Phenotypic data were collected over a 2-year period from a replicated clonal trial containing ramets of the parental, F1, and F2 trees. Contrary to the assumptions of simple polygenic models of quantitative trait inheritance, 1-5 QTLs of large effect are responsible for a large portion of the genetic variance in each of the traits measured. For example, 44.7% of the genetic variance in stem volume after 2 years of growth is controlled by just two QTLs. QTLs governing stem basal area were found clustered with QTLs for sylleptic branch leaf area, sharing similar chromosomal position and mode of action and suggesting a pleiotropic effect of QTLs ultimately responsible for stem diameter growth.