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Article|21 Feb 2023|OPEN
Genetic architecture of leaf morphology revealed by integrated trait module in Catalpa bungei 
Miaomiao Zhang1 , ,† , Bingyang Liu1 ,† , Yue Fei1 , Xiaowei Yang1 , Linjiao Zhao1 , Chaozhong Shi1 , Yueying Zhang2 , Nan Lu1 , Chuangye Wu3 , Wenjun Ma1 and Junhui Wang,1 ,
1State Key Laboratory of Tree Genetics and Breeding, Key Laboratory of Tree Breeding and Cultivation of State Forestry Administration, Research Institute of Forestry, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091, China
2Academy of Forest and Grassland Inventory and Planning, National Forestry and Grassland Administration, Beijing 100714, China
3Wenxian Forestry Science Research Institute, Jiaozuo 454850, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail:,
Both authors contributed equally to the study.

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad032 (2023)
Views: 152

Received: 21 Dec 2022
Accepted: 14 Feb 2023
Published online: 21 Feb 2023


Leaves are crucial for maintaining plant growth and development via photosynthesis, and their function is simultaneously regulated by a suite of phenotypic traits. Although much is known about the genetic architecture of individual leaf traits, unraveling the genetic basis of complex leaf morphology remains a challenge. Based on the functional correlation and coordination of multi-traits, we divided 15 leaf morphological traits into three modules, comprising size (area, length, width, and perimeter), shape (leaf lobes, aspect ratio, circularity, rectangularity, and the relevant ratios), and color (red, green, and blue) for an ornamental tree species, Catalpa bungei. A total of 189 significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms were identified in the leaves of C. bungei: 35, 82, and 76 in the size, shape, and color modules, respectively. Four quantitative trait loci were common between the size and shape modules, which were closely related according to phenotype correlation, genetic mapping, and mRNA analysis. The color module was independent of them. Synergistic changes in the aspect ratio, leaf lobe, and circularity suggest that these traits could be the core indicators of the leaf shape module. The LAS and SRK genes, associated with leaf lobe and circularity, were found to function in plant defense mechanisms and the growth of leaves. The associations between the SRK and CRK2 genes and the leaf lobe and circularity traits were further verified by RT–qPCR. Our findings demonstrate the importance of integrating multi-trait modules to characterize leaf morphology and facilitate a holistic understanding of the genetic architecture of intraspecific leaf morphology diversity.