Eucalypts are the most widely planted hardwood trees in the world occupying globally more than 18 million hectares as an important source of carbon neutral renewable energy and raw material for pulp, paper and solid wood. Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) in Eucalyptus have been localized on pedigree-specific RAPD or AFLP maps seriously limiting the value of such QTL mapping efforts for molecular breeding. The availability of a genus-wide genetic map with transferable microsatellite markers has become a must for the effective advancement of genomic undertakings. This report describes the development of a novel set of 230 EMBRA microsatellites, the construction of the first comprehensive microsatellite-based consensus linkage map for Eucalyptus and the consolidation of existing linkage information for other microsatellites and candidate genes mapped in other species of the genus.
The consensus map covers approximately 90% of the recombining genome of Eucalyptus, involves 234 mapped EMBRA loci on 11 linkage groups, an observed length of 1,568 cM and a mean distance between markers of 8.4 cM. A compilation of all microsatellite linkage information published in Eucalyptus allowed us to establish the homology among linkage groups between this consensus map and other maps published for E. globulus. Comparative mapping analyses also resulted in the linkage group assignment of other 41 microsatellites derived from other Eucalyptus species as well as candidate genes and QTLs for wood and flowering traits published in the literature. This report significantly increases the availability of microsatellite markers and mapping information for species of Eucalyptus and corroborates the high conservation of microsatellite flanking sequences and locus ordering between species of the genus.
This work represents an important step forward for Eucalyptus comparative genomics, opening stimulating perspectives for evolutionary studies and molecular breeding applications. The generalized use of an increasingly larger set of interspecific transferable markers and consensus mapping information, will allow faster and more detailed investigations of QTL synteny among species, validation of expression-QTL across variable genetic backgrounds and positioning of a growing number of candidate genes co-localized with QTLs, to be tested in association mapping experiments.