Genomic approaches to selection in outcrossing perennials: focus on essential oil crops

David Kainer, Robert Lanfear, William J. Foley, Carsten Külheim

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)


    The yield of essential oil in commercially harvested perennial species (e.g. ‘Oil Mallee’ eucalypts, Tea Trees and Hop) is dependent on complex quantitative traits such as foliar oil concentration, biomass and adaptability. These often show large natural variation and some are highly heritable, which has enabled significant gains in oil yield via traditional phenotypic recurrent selection. Analysis of transcript abundance and allelic diversity has revealed that essential oil yield is likely to be controlled by large numbers of quantitative trait loci that range from a few of medium/large effect to many of small effect. Molecular breeding techniques that exploit this information could increase gains per unit time and address complications of traditional breeding such as genetic correlations between key traits and the lower heritability of biomass. Genomic selection (GS) is a technique that uses the information from markers genotyped across the whole genome in order to predict the phenotype of progeny well before they reach maturity, allowing selection at an earlier age. In this review, we investigate the feasibility of genomic selection (GS) for the improvement of essential oil yield. We explore the challenges facing breeders selecting for oil yield, and how GS might deal with them. We then assess the factors that affect the accuracy of genomic estimated breeding values, such as linkage disequilibrium (LD), heritability, relatedness and the genetic architecture of desirable traits. We conclude that GS has the potential to significantly improve the efficiency of selection for essential oil yield.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2351-2365
    Number of pages15
    JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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