Detection and Analysis of Syntenic Quantitative Trait Loci Controlling Cell Wall Quality in Angiosperms

Francesco Pancaldi, Dennis Vlegels, Hugo Rijken, Eibertus N. van Loo, Luisa M. Trindade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Translational genomics can enable a quicker improvement of orphan crops toward novel agricultural applications, including the advancement of orphan biomass species for cultivation on marginal lands. In this sense, cell wall quality is a preeminent breeding target. However, tools to efficiently project genetic data on target traits across large sets of species are currently missing. This study aimed at closing this gap by developing a strategy to project a set of cell wall QTLs across a large group of plants by using genome synteny. This strategy is suited for large-scale analyses and detected 362 syntenic cell wall QTLs (SQTLs) across 74 angiosperms, including several (orphan) biomass species. SQTLs analyses revealed that they span large portions of the initial cell wall QTLs and are extensively conserved across diverse species. Moreover, numerous QTLs cell wall genes were conserved through SQTLs, including genes displaying allelic variation associated with cell wall composition. Functional analyses showed that highly conserved genes of SQTLs include important cell wall transcription factors and genes involved in the remodeling of cell wall polymers. For some of these gene families, SQTLs indicated the presence of differentially conserved genomic contexts for different gene members, highlighting their utility as a tool to pinpoint gene targets that maximize the likelihood of functional gene conservation. Overall, the results of this study can facilitate “universal” approaches for breeding (orphan) biomass crops, while the strategy for QTLs translation can be applied to other sets of traits and species, helping to unlock the potential of orphan species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number855093
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2022


  • biomass quality
  • breeding tools
  • cell wall
  • crop improvement
  • orphan crops
  • QTLs
  • syntenic QTLs
  • synteny


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