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Understanding the genetic basis of local adaptation in natural plant populations, particularly crop wild relatives, may be highly useful for plant breeding. By characterizing genetic variation for adaptation to potentially stressful environmental conditions, breeders can make targeted use of crop wild relatives to develop cultivars for novel or changing environments. This is especially appealing for improving long-lived woody perennial crops such as the American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.), the cultivation of which is challenged by biotic and abiotic stresses. In this study, we used environmental association analyses in a collection of 111 wild cranberry accessions to identify potentially adaptive genomic regions for a range of bioclimatic and soil conditions. We detected 126 significant associations between SNP marker loci and environmental variables describing temperature, precipitation, and soil attributes. Many of these markers tagged genes with functional annotations strongly suggesting a role in adaptation to biotic or abiotic conditions. Despite relatively low genetic variation in cranberry, our results suggest that local adaptation to divergent environments is indeed present, and the identification of potentially adaptive genetic variation may enable a selective use of this germplasm for breeding more stress-tolerant cultivars. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Genetics Society of America 2022.


Jeffrey L Neyhart, Michael B Kantar, Juan Zalapa, Nicholi Vorsa. Genomic-environmental associations in wild cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.). G3 (Bethesda, Md.). 2022 Sep 30;12(10)

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PMID: 35944211

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