The influence of QTL allelic diversity on QTL detection in multi-parent populations: a simulation study in sugar beet

Vincent Garin*, Valentin Wimmer, Dietrich Borchardt, Marcos Malosetti, Fred van Eeuwijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Multi-parent populations (MPPs) are important resources for studying plant genetic architecture and detecting quantitative trait loci (QTLs). In MPPs, the QTL effects can show various levels of allelic diversity, which can be an important factor influencing the detection of QTLs. In MPPs, the allelic effects can be more or less specific. They can depend on an ancestor, a parent or the combination of parents in a cross. In this paper, we evaluated the effect of QTL allelic diversity on the QTL detection power in MPPs. Results: We simulated: a) cross-specific QTLs; b) parental and ancestral QTLs; and c) bi-allelic QTLs. Inspired by a real application in sugar beet, we tested different MPP designs (diallel, chessboard, factorial, and NAM) derived from five or nine parents to explore the ability to sample genetic diversity and detect QTLs. Using a fixed total population size, the QTL detection power was larger in MPPs with fewer but larger crosses derived from a reduced number of parents. The use of a larger set of parents was useful to detect rare alleles with a large phenotypic effect. The benefit of using a larger set of parents was however conditioned on an increase of the total population size. We also determined empirical confidence intervals for QTL location to compare the resolution of different designs. For QTLs representing 6% of the phenotypic variation, using 1600 F2 offspring individuals, we found average 95% confidence intervals over different designs of 49 and 25 cM for cross-specific and bi-allelic QTLs, respectively. Conclusions: MPPs derived from less parents with few but large crosses generally increased the QTL detection power. Using a larger set of parents to cover a wider genetic diversity can be useful to detect QTLs with a reduced minor allele frequency when the QTL effect is large and when the total population size is increased.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalBMC Genomic Data
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • Allelic diversity
  • Multi-parent populations (MPPs)
  • Quantitative trait locus (QTL)
  • R package mppR
  • Simulation


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