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Genomics of drought tolerance in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.)

Desta DS, Cloutier S (2016) Genomics of drought tolerance in flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) Canadian Society of Agronomy Annual Meeting, Montreal, 24-26 July


Flax (Linum usitatissimum) belongs to the family Linaceae with a chromosome number of 2n=2x=30 and a genome size of approximately 370MB. It is one of the earliest cultivated crops to have been used as human food and as raw material for the textile industry. Recent findings of its nutritional and medicinal values have attracted the food, feed and pharmaceutical industries. However, production of flax is constrained by a number of biotic and abiotic factors, including water stress which severely limits flax production. Variation in level of tolerance to different moisture regimes exists among flax germlines providing a scope of opportunities for breeders to exploit. Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) employ high density markers to investigate the contribution of genomic regions to the target traits. Currently, more than 1300 simple sequence repeat (SSR) and 1.7 million single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers have been developed for flax. This data was filtered for a collection of 112 lines representing more than 95% of the genetic variability of Canadian flax core collection (n=407). Phylogenetic and population structure analyses using a total of approximately 700,000 SNPs and 450 SSRs were conducted. The fiber and oil morphotypes are noticeably distinguished suggesting a historical selection effect. Clustering also tended to follow geographic origin. The target lines (n=112), grown in the field under two water regimes, are being phenotyped for many traits including canopy temperature, disease, yield and others. Root architecture is also being phenotyped indoor. The ultimate goal of the research is to gain insights into the genetic architecture of drought-related traits towards marker-assisted breeding and genomic selection.

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