Molecular Markers and Mapping in Bulb Onion, A Forgotten Monocot

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  • 1 USDA/ARS, Dept. of Horticulture, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706.

Although always among the top five vegetables in value, little genetic information has been published on the bulb onion. Genetic and molecular analyses are hampered by the plant's biennial nature, severe inbreeding depression, and huge genome. Research is underway to construct a low-density genetic map of onion based on RFLPs, AFLPs, and RAPDs. Among open-pollinated populations (OPPs), levels on DNA polymorphisms were in agreement with those of other outcrossing diploid species. However, we identified little putative-allelic diversity among the OPPs (1.9 polymorphic bands per polymorphic probe–enzyme combination) supporting a bottleneck during the domestication of onion. Our segregating family is from the cross of two diverse inbreds and will be used to map quantitative trait loci conditioning phenotypically correlated production (maturity, storability, and firmness), consumer-preference (pungency, flavor, and bulb shape), and health-enhancing (anti-platelet aggregation) attributes of onion. We are also attempting to tag chromosome regions controlling relatively simply inherited traits that are difficult or expensive to characterize classically.

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