Multivariate analysis of the cotton seed ionome reveals a shared genetic architecture

Duke Pauli, Greg Ziegler, Min Ren, Matthew A. Jenks, Douglas J. Hunsaker, Min Zhang, Ivan Baxter, Michael A. Gore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


To mitigate the effects of heat and drought stress, a better understanding of the genetic control of physiological responses to these environmental conditions is needed. To this end, we evaluated an upland cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) mapping population under water-limited and well-watered conditions in a hot, arid environment. The elemental concentrations (ionome) of seed samples from the population were profiled in addition to those of soil samples taken from throughout the field site to better model environmental variation. The elements profiled in seeds exhibited moderate to high heritabilities, as well as strong phenotypic and genotypic correlations between elements that were not altered by the imposed irrigation regimes. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping results from a Bayesian classification method identified multiple genomic regions where QTL for individual elements colocalized, suggesting that genetic control of the ionome is highly interrelated. To more fully explore this genetic architecture, multivariate QTL mapping was implemented among groups of biochemically related elements. This analysis revealed both additional and pleiotropic QTL responsible for coordinated control of phenotypic variation for elemental accumulation. Machine learning algorithms that utilized only ionomic data predicted the irrigation regime under which genotypes were evaluated with very high accuracy. Taken together, these results demonstrate the extent to which the seed ionome is genetically interrelated and predictive of plant physiological responses to adverse environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1147-1160
Number of pages14
JournalG3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Abiotic stress
  • Bayesian
  • Cotton
  • High-throughput
  • Ionome
  • Multivariate
  • Phenotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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