Multiallelic models for QTL mapping in diverse polyploid populations
Thérèse Navarro, Alejandro; Tumino, Giorgio; Voorrips, Roeland E.; Arens, Paul; Smulders, Marinus J.M.; van de Weg, Eric; Maliepaard, Chris
Abstract: Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis allows to identify regions responsible for a trait and to associate alleles with their effect on phenotypes. When using biallelic markers to find these QTL regions, two alleles per QTL are modelled. This assumption might be close to reality in specific biparental crosses but is unrealistic in situations where broader genetic diversity is studied. Diversity panels used in genome-wide association studies or multi-parental populations can easily harbour multiple QTL alleles at each locus, more so in the case of polyploids that carry more than two alleles per individual. In such situations a multiallelic model would be closer to reality, allowing for different genetic effects for each potential allele in the population. To obtain such multiallelic markers we propose the usage of haplotypes, concatenations of nearby SNPs. We developed “mpQTL” an R package that can perform a QTL analysis at any ploidy level under biallelic and multiallelic models, depending on the marker type given. We tested the effect of genetic diversity on the power and accuracy difference between bi-allelic and multiallelic models using a set of simulated multiparental autotetraploid, outbreeding populations. Multiallelic models had higher detection power and were more precise than biallelic, SNP-based models, particularly when genetic diversity was higher. This confirms that moving to multi-allelic QTL models can lead to improved detection and characterization of QTLs. Key message: QTL detection in populations with more than two functional QTL alleles (which is likely in multiparental and/or polyploid populations) is more powerful when using multiallelic models, rather than biallelic models.