Modeling QTL for complex traits: detection and context for plant breeding

M. Cooper, F.A. van Eeuwijk, G.L. Hammer, D.W. Podlich, C. Messina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


The genetic architecture of a trait is defined by the set of genes contributing to genetic variation within a reference population of genotypes together with information on their location in the genome and the effects of their alleles on traits, including intra-locus and inter-locus interactions, environmental dependencies, and pleiotropy. Accumulated evidence from trait mapping studies emphasizes that plant breeders work within a trait genetic complexity continuum. Some traits show a relatively simple genetic architecture while others, such as grain yield, have a complex architecture. An important advance is that we now have empirical genetic models of trait genetic architecture obtained from mapping studies (multi-OTL models including various genetic effects that may vary in relation to environmental factors) to ground theoretical investigations on the merits of alternative breeding strategies. Such theoretical studies indicate that as the genetic complexity of traits increases the opportunities for realizing benefits from molecular enhanced breeding strategies increase. To realize these potential benefits and enable the plant breeder to increase rate of genetic gain for complex traits it is anticipated that the empirical genetic models of trait genetic architecture used for predicting trait variation will need to incorporate the effects of genetic interactions and be interpreted within a genotype-environment-management framework for the target agricultural production system
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-240
JournalCurrent Opinion in Plant Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • root architectural traits
  • gene regulatory networks
  • mixed-model
  • water-deficit
  • leaf growth
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • quantitative traits
  • inbred lines
  • maize
  • environment


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