Marker-trait association analysis for agronomic and compositional traits in sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia).
Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia) is a perennial forage legume with great potential for use in sustainable agriculture due to its low input requirements, good drought tolerance, and production of forage rich in polyphenolic compounds, which are beneficial for animal health. However, its distribution and cultivation are limited due to its moderate agronomic performance and a general lack of well adapted, highly yielding cultivars. Faster progress in breeding is imperative, but is often hampered by the complex inheritance of traits and limited knowledge on the genetic composition of this tetraploid, outbreeding species. Molecular genetic tools might aid phenotypic selection; however, to date no information on marker-trait associations is available for sainfoin. Hence, the goal of the present study was to detect marker-trait associations in a biparental F population. Single plants were screened for recently developed genetic markers and phenotyped for important agronomic traits and concentrations of different polyphenolic compounds. Significant trait-associated markers (TAM) were detected for plant height (11), plant vigor (1), and seed yield (7). These three traits were positively correlated with each other and shared some TAMs. Correlations among markers suggested that two independent loci control these three vigor-related traits. One additional, independent TAM was detected for the share of prodelphinidins in total condensed tannins. Our results provide insight into the genetic control of important traits of sainfoin, and the TAMs reported here could assist selection in combination with phenotypic assessment.