Candidate genes identified in these QTL regions include homologs to known nodulin protein families and other symbiosis-specific genes.
Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) form associations with over 80% of all terrestrial plant species and assist their host plants by increasing their nutrient uptake, drought tolerance, and resilience against pathogens and pests. Genotypic variation of crop plants to AMF colonization has been identified in crops, including soybean; however, the genetics controlling levels of AMF colonization in soybean are unknown. The overall goal of our study was to identify genomic regions associated with mycorrhizal colonization in soybean using genome-wide association analysis. A diverse panel of 350 exotic soybean genotypes inoculated with Rhizophagus intraradices were microscopically evaluated for root colonization using a modified gridline intersect method. Root colonization differed significantly (P < 0.001) among genotypes and ranged from 11 to 70%. A whole-genome resequencing-derived SNP dataset identified six quantitative trait loci (QTL) significantly associated with R. intraradices colonization that explained 24% of the phenotypic variance. Candidate genes identified in these QTL regions include homologs to known nodulin protein families and other symbiosis-specific genes. The results showed there was a significant genetic component to the level of colonization by R. intraradices in soybean. This information may be useful in the development of AMF-sensitive soybean cultivars to enhance nutrient uptake, drought tolerance, and disease resistance in the crop.