Functional annotation of putative QTL associated with black tea quality and drought tolerance traits

The understanding of black tea quality and percent relative water content (%RWC) traits in tea (Camellia sinensis) by a quantitative trait loci (QTL) approach can be useful in elucidation and identification of candidate genes underlying the QTL which has remained to be difficult. The objective of the study was to identify putative QTL controlling black tea quality and percent relative water traits in two tea populations and their F1 progeny. A total of 1,421 DArTseq markers derived from the linkage map identified 53 DArTseq markers to be linked to black tea quality and %RWC. All 53 DArTseq markers with unique best hits were identified in the tea genome. A total of 5,592 unigenes were assigned gene ontology (GO) terms, 56% comprised biological processes, cellular component (29%) and molecular functions (15%), respectively. A total of 84 unigenes in 15 LGs were assigned to 25 different Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database pathways based on categories of secondary metabolite biosynthesis. The three major enzymes identified were transferases (38.9%), hydrolases (29%) and oxidoreductases (18.3%). The putative candidate proteins identified were involved in flavonoid biosynthesis, alkaloid biosynthesis, ATPase family proteins related to abiotic/biotic stress response. The functional annotation of putative QTL identified in this current study will shed more light on the proteins associated with caffeine and catechins biosynthesis and % RWC. This study may help breeders in selection of parents with desirable DArTseq markers for development of new tea cultivars with desirable traits.