Quantitative trait locus analysis in avocado: The challenge of a slow-maturing horticultural tree crop

Vanessa E.T.M. Ashworth, Haofeng Chen, Carlos L. Calderón-Vázquez, Mary Lu Arpaia, David N. Kuhn, Mary L. Durbin, Livia Tommasini, Elizabeth Deyett, Zhenyu Jia, Michael T. Clegg, Philippe E. Rolshausen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The glossy, green-fleshed fruit of the avocado (Persea americana) has been the object of human selection for thousands of years. Recent interest in healthy nutrition has singled out the avocado as an excellent source of several phytonutrients. Yet as a sizeable, slow-maturing tree crop, it has been largely neglected by genetic studies, owing to a long breeding cycle and costly field trials. We use a small, replicated experimental population of 50 progeny, grown at two locations in two successive years, to explore the feasibility of developing a dense genetic linkage map and to implement quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis for seven phenotypic traits. Additionally, we test the utility of candidate-gene single-nucleotide polymorphisms developed to genes from biosynthetic pathways of phytonutrients beneficial to human health. The resulting linkage map consisted of 1346 markers (1044.7 cM) distributed across 12 linkage groups. Numerous markers on Linkage Group 10 were associated with a QTL for flowering type. One marker on Linkage Group 1 tracked a QTL for β-sitosterol content of the fruit. A region on Linkage Group 3 tracked vitamin E (α-tocopherol) content of the fruit, and several markers were stable across both locations and study years. We argue that the pursuit of linkage mapping and QTL analysis is worthwhile, even when population size is small.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)352-362
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2019



  • Candidate gene
  • Linkage map
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Persea americana
  • Vitamin E
  • β-sitosterol

Cite this

Ashworth, V. E. T. M., Chen, H., Calderón-Vázquez, C. L., Arpaia, M. L., Kuhn, D. N., Durbin, M. L., Tommasini, L., Deyett, E., Jia, Z., Clegg, M. T., & Rolshausen, P. E. (2019). Quantitative trait locus analysis in avocado: The challenge of a slow-maturing horticultural tree crop. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science, 144(5), 352-362. https://doi.org/10.21273/JASHS04729-19