Main conclusion: By genome-wide association study, QTLs for salt tolerance in rapeseed were detected, and aTSN1ortholog was identified as a candidate gene responsible for genetic variation in cultivars. Dissecting the genomic regions governing abiotic stress tolerance is necessary for marker-assisted breeding to produce elite breeding lines. In this study, a world-wide collection of rapeseed was evaluated for salt tolerance. These rapeseed accessions showed a large variation for salt tolerance index ranging from 0.311 to 0.999. Although no significant correlation between salt tolerance and Na+ content was observed, there was a significant negative correlation between shoot biomass production under a control condition and salt tolerance. These rapeseed accessions were genotyped by DArTseq for a total of 51,109 genetic markers, which were aligned with ‘pseudomolecules’ representative of the genome of rapeseed to locate their hypothetical order for association mapping. A total of 62 QTLs for salt tolerance, shoot biomass, and ion-homeostasis-related traits were identified by association mapping using both the P and Q+K models. Candidate genes located within the QTL regions were also shortlisted. Sequence analysis showed many polymorphisms for BnaaTSN1. Three of them in the coding region resulting in a premature stop codon or frameshift were found in most of the sensitive lines. Loss-of-function mutations showed a significant association with salt tolerance in B. napus.
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