Genetic analysis of the “head top shape” quality trait of Chinese cabbage and its association with rosette leaf variation

Sun, Xiaoxue; Gao, Ying; Lu, Yin; Zhang, Xiaomeng; Luo, Shuangxia; Li, Xing; Liu, Mengyang; Feng, Daling; Gu, Aixia; Chen, Xueping; Xuan, Shuxin; Wang, Yanhua; Shen, Shuxing; Bonnema, Guusje; Zhao, Jianjun


The agricultural and consumer quality of Chinese cabbage is determined by its shape. The shape is defined by the folding of the heading leaves, which defines the head top shape (HTS). The overlapping HTS, in which the heading leaves curve inward and overlap at the top, is the shape preferred by consumers. To understand the genetic regulation of HTS, we generated a large segregating F2 population from a cross between pak choi and Chinese cabbage, with phenotypes ranging from nonheading to heading with either outward curving or inward curving overlapping heading leaves. HTS was correlated with plant height, outer/rosette leaf length, and petiole length. A high-density genetic map was constructed. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis resulted in the identification of 22 QTLs for leafy head-related traits, which included five HTS QTLs. Bulked segregant analysis (BSA) was used to confirm HTS QTLs and identify candidate genes based on informative single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Interestingly, the HTS QTLs colocalized with QTLs for plant height, outer/rosette leaf, and petiole length, consistent with the observed phenotypic correlations. Combined QTL analysis and BSA laid a foundation for molecular marker-assisted breeding of Chinese cabbage HTS and directions for further research on the genetic regulation of this trait.