Eliminating expression of erucic acid-encoding loci allows the identification of "hidden" QTL contributing to oil quality fractions and oil content in Brassica juncea (Indian mustard).
Oil content and oil quality fractions (viz., oleic, linoleic and linolenic acid) are strongly influenced by the erucic acid pathway in oilseed Brassicas. Low levels of erucic acid in seed oil increases oleic acid content to nutritionally desirable levels, but also increases the linoleic and linolenic acid fractions and reduces oil content in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea). Analysis of phenotypic variability for oil quality fractions among a high-erucic Indian variety (Varuna), a low-erucic east-European variety (Heera) and a zero-erucic Indian variety (ZE-Varuna) developed by backcross breeding in this study indicated that lower levels of linoleic and linolenic acid in Varuna are due to substrate limitation caused by an active erucic acid pathway and not due to weaker alleles or enzyme limitation. To identify compensatory loci that could be used to increase oil content and maintain desirable levels of oil quality fractions under zero-erucic conditions, we performed Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) mapping for the above traits on two independent F1 doubled haploid (F1DH) mapping populations developed from a cross between Varuna and Heera. One of the populations comprised plants segregating for erucic acid content (SE) and was used earlier for construction of a linkage map and QTL mapping of several yield-influencing traits in B. juncea. The second population consisted of zero-erucic acid individuals (ZE) for which, an Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP)-based framework linkage map was constructed in the present study. By QTL mapping for oil quality fractions and oil content in the ZE population, we detected novel loci contributing to the above traits. These loci did not co-localize with mapped locations of the fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2), fatty acid desaturase 3 (FAD3) or fatty acid elongase (FAE) genes unlike those of the SE population wherein major QTL were found to coincide with mapped locations of the FAE genes. Some of the new loci identified in the ZE population could be detected as 'weak' contributors (with LOD due to pleiotropic effects of erucic acid genes. The novel loci identified in this study could now be used to improve oil quality parameters and oil content in B. juncea under zero-erucic conditions.
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