3 years ago

Association analysis of salt tolerance in cowpea ( Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) at germination and seedling stages

Waltram Ravelombola, Gehendra Bhattarai, Jun Qin, Vibha Srivastava, Yuejin Weng, John Clark, Dennis Motes, Ainong Shi, Pengyin Chen, Lingdi Dong, Yuichi Sugihara, Wei Yang, Beiquan Mou


Key message

This is the first report on association analysis of salt tolerance and identification of SNP markers associated with salt tolerance in cowpea.


Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) is one of the most important cultivated legumes in Africa. The worldwide annual production in cowpea dry seed is 5.4 million metric tons. However, cowpea is unfavorably affected by salinity stress at germination and seedling stages, which is exacerbated by the effects of climate change. The lack of knowledge on the genetic underlying salt tolerance in cowpea limits the establishment of a breeding strategy for developing salt-tolerant cowpea cultivars. The objectives of this study were to conduct association mapping for salt tolerance at germination and seedling stages and to identify SNP markers associated with salt tolerance in cowpea. We analyzed the salt tolerance index of 116 and 155 cowpea accessions at germination and seedling stages, respectively. A total of 1049 SNPs postulated from genotyping-by-sequencing were used for association analysis. Population structure was inferred using Structure 2.3.4; K optimal was determined using Structure Harvester. TASSEL 5, GAPIT, and FarmCPU involving three models such as single marker regression, general linear model, and mixed linear model were used for the association study. Substantial variation in salt tolerance index for germination rate, plant height reduction, fresh and dry shoot biomass reduction, foliar leaf injury, and inhibition of the first trifoliate leaf was observed. The cowpea accessions were structured into two subpopulations. Three SNPs, Scaffold87490_622, Scaffold87490_630, and C35017374_128 were highly associated with salt tolerance at germination stage. Seven SNPs, Scaffold93827_270, Scaffold68489_600, Scaffold87490_633, Scaffold87490_640, Scaffold82042_3387, C35069468_1916, and Scaffold93942_1089 were found to be associated with salt tolerance at seedling stage. The SNP markers were consistent across the three models and could be used as a tool to select salt-tolerant lines for breeding improved cowpea tolerance to salinity.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-017-2987-0

DOI: 10.1007/s00122-017-2987-0

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