Genetics 215(1) , 267-284 (May 2020)
Multienvironment trials (METs) are widely used to assess the performance of promising crop germplasm. Though seldom designed to elucidate genetic mechanisms, MET data sets are often much larger than could be duplicated for genetic research and, given proper interpretation, may offer valuable insights into the genetics of adaptation across time and space. The Cooperative Dry Bean Nursery (CDBN) is a MET for common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown for > 70 years in the United States and Canada, consisting of 20-50 entries each year at 10-20 locations. The CDBN provides a rich source of phenotypic data across entries, years, and locations that is amenable to genetic analysis. To study stable genetic effects segregating in this MET, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using best linear unbiased predictions derived across years and locations for 21 CDBN phenotypes and genotypic data (1.2 million SNPs) for 327 CDBN genotypes. The value of this approach was confirmed by the discovery of three candidate genes and genomic regions previously identified in balanced GWAS. Multivariate adaptive shrinkage (mash) analysis, which increased our power to detect significant correlated effects, found significant effects for all phenotypes. Mash found two large genomic regions with effects on multiple phenotypes, supporting a hypothesis of pleiotropic or linked effects that were likely selected on in pursuit of a crop ideotype. Overall, our results demonstrate that statistical genomics approaches can be used on MET phenotypic data to discover significant genetic effects and to define genomic regions associated with crop improvement.