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Effect of genotype and environment on branching in weedy green millet (Setaria viridis) and domesticated foxtail millet (Setaria italica) (Poaceae)


Andrew N. Doust, Fax: 341-516-6233; E-mail:


Many domesticated crops are derived from species whose life history includes weedy characteristics, such as the ability to vary branching patterns in response to environmental conditions. However, domesticated crop plants are characterized by less variable plant architecture, as well as by a general reduction in vegetative branching compared to their progenitor species. Here we examine weedy green millet and its domesticate foxtail millet that differ in the number of tillers (basal branches) and axillary branches along each tiller. Branch number in F2:3 progeny of a cross between the two species varies with genotype, planting density, and other environmental variables, with significant genotype–environment interactions (GEI). This is shown by a complex pattern of reaction norms and by variation in the pattern of significant quantitative trait loci (QTL) amongst trials. Individual and joint analyses of high and low density trials indicate that most QTL have significant GEI. Dominance and epistasis also explain some variation in branching. Likely candidate genes underlying the QTL (based on map position and phenotypic effect) include teosinte branched1 and barren stalk1. Phytochrome B, which has been found to affect response to shading in other plants, explains little or no variation. Much variation in branching is explained by QTL that do not have obvious candidate genes from maize or rice.