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Article|01 Feb 2021|OPEN
Loci discovery, network-guided approach, and genomic prediction for drought tolerance index in a multi-parent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) cowpea population
Waltram Ravelombola1,2, Ainong Shi2, & Bao-Lam Huynh3
1Texas A&M AgriLife Research& Extension, Vernon, TX 76384, USA
2Department of Horticulture, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701, USA
3Department of Nematology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

Horticulture Research 8,
Article number: 24 (2021)
doi: 10.1038/hortres.2021.24
Views: 214

Received: 20 Jun 2020
Revised: 16 Oct 2020
Accepted: 13 Dec 2020
Published online: 01 Feb 2021


Cowpea is a nutrient-dense legume that significantly contributes to the population’s diet in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions of the world. Improving cowpea cultivars to be more resilient to abiotic stress such as drought would be of great importance. The use of a multi-parent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) population has been shown to be efficient in increasing the frequency of rare alleles that could be associated with important agricultural traits. In addition, drought tolerance index has been reported to be a reliable parameter for assessing crop tolerance to water-deficit conditions. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to evaluate the drought tolerance index for plant growth habit, plant maturity, flowering time, 100-seed weight, and grain yield in a MAGIC cowpea population, to conduct genome-wide association study (GWAS) and identify single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers associated with the drought tolerance indices, to investigate the potential relationship existing between the significant loci associated with the drought tolerance indices, and to conduct genomic selection (GS). These analyses were performed using the existing phenotypic and genotypic data published for the MAGIC population which consisted of 305 F8 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) developed at University of California, Riverside. The results indicated that: (1) large variation in drought tolerance indices existed among the cowpea genotypes, (2) a total of 14, 18, 5, 5, and 35 SNPs were associated with plant growth habit change due to drought stress, and drought tolerance indices for maturity, flowering time, 100-seed weight, and grain yield, respectively, (3) the network-guided approach revealed clear interactions between the loci associated with the drought tolerance traits, and (4) the GS accuracy varied from low to moderate. These results could be applied to improve drought tolerance in cowpea through marker-assisted selection (MAS) and genomic selection (GS). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on marker loci associated with drought tolerance indices in cowpea.