Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) mapping and genome-wide transcriptome analysis to identify agronomically important genes in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa)

A better knowledge of photoperiod response and flowering time can aid quinoa’s adaption to new environments. In this study, I aimed to solve this problem by three approaches: QTL mapping of agronomically important traits; transcriptome analysis to identify genes differentially responding to photoperiod and involved in flowering time; and by contributing to the development of an Agrobacterium-mediated transformation protocol in quinoa.

For QTL mapping, F2 and F3 generations grown in the greenhouse and field (respectively) were used. Fifteen QTL were detected for ten traits. Importantly, two significant QTL, common in F2 and F3 generations, depicted pleiotropy for days to flowering, plant height, and TKW. The pleiotropic QTL harbored several putative candidate genes involved in photoperiod response and flowering time regulation.

In the transcriptome study, I studied quinoa floral transition at the histological level and generated the transcriptomes of two accessions under two photoperiod regimes (short- and long-days) and from two tissues (leaf and shoot apical meristem) at different stages of development. As an outcome, I identified differentially expressed genes (DEGs) responding to photoperiod to likely control flowering time; DEGs putatively regulating flowering time under short- and long-day conditions; and DEGs likely timing flowering at the shoot apical meristem.

In my last approach, I proved that C. quinoa can be regenerated in vitro and provided a reproducible protocol. However, tissue browning after Agrobacterium infection did not allow an efficient transformation protocol where a strong reduction of the shooting rates was observed.


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