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Genome-wide association mapping of yield components and drought tolerance-related traits in cotton
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Drought causes serious yield losses in cotton production throughout the world. Association mapping allows identification and localization of the genes controlling drought-related traits which will be helpful in cotton breeding. In the present study, genetic diversity analysis and association mapping of yield and drought traits were performed on a panel of 99 upland cotton genotypes using 177 SSR (simple sequence repeat) markers. Yield parameters and drought tolerance-related traits were evaluated for two seasons under two watering regimes: water-stressed and well-watered. The traits included seed cotton yield (SCY), lint yield (LY), lint percentage (LP), water-use efficiency (WUE), yield potential (YP), yield reduction (YR), yield index (YI), drought sensitivity index (DSI), stress tolerance index (STI), harmonic mean (HM), and geometric mean productivity (GMP). The genotypes with the least change in seed cotton yield under drought stress were Zeta 2, Delcerro, Nazilli 87, and DAK 66/3 which were also the most water-use efficient cultivars. The average genetic diversity of the panel was 0.38. The linkage disequilibrium decayed relatively rapidly at 20–30 cM (r 2 ≥ 0.5). We identified 30 different SSR markers associated with the traits. Fifteen and 23 SSR markers were linked to the traits under well-watered and water-stress conditions, respectively. To our knowledge, most of these quantitative yield and drought tolerance-associated loci were newly identified. The genetic diversity and association mapping results should facilitate the development of drought-tolerant cotton lines with high yield in molecular breeding programs.