Population structure, genetic diversity and linkage disequilibrium in a macadamia breeding population using SNP and silicoDArT markers

Katie O’Connor, Andrzej Kilian, Ben Hayes, Craig Hardner, Catherine Nock, Abdul Baten, Mobashwer Alam, Bruce Topp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia Maiden & Betche, Macadamia tetraphylla L.A.S. Johnson and their hybrids) is grown commercially around the world for its high-quality edible kernel. Traditional breeding efforts involve crossing varieties to produce thousands of progeny seedlings for evaluation. Cultivar improvement for nut yield using component traits and genomics are options for macadamia breeding, but accurate knowledge of genetic diversity and structure of the breeding population is required. This study reports allelic diversity within and between families of 295 seedling offspring from 29 parents, population structure and the extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) in the population. Genotyping generated 19,527 silicoDArT and 5329 SNP markers, and, after filtering, 16,171 silicoDArTs and 4113 SNPs were used for diversity analyses. LD decay was initially rapid at short distances, but low-level LD persisted for long distances, with an average r 2 = 0.124 for SNPs within 1 kb of each other. The seedling population was relatively genetically diverse and very similar to that of the 29 parents. The diversity (H E = 0.255 for progeny and 0.250 for parents) among these individuals indicates the level of diversity at the wider population level in the breeding programme, though the population appears less diverse than other fruit crops. Macadamia progeny was moderately differentiated (F ST = 0.401) and formed k = 3 distinct clusters, which represents M. integrifolia germplasm separating from two different hybrid groups. There was low to no relationship between heterozygosity and performance for nut yield among progeny. These findings will inform future genomic studies of the Australian macadamia breeding programme, such as genome-wide association studies and genomic selection, where knowledge and control of population structure are vital.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalTree Genetics and Genomes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


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