MAGIC populations in crops: current status and future prospects
The past decade has seen the rise of multiparental populations as a study design offering great advantages for genetic studies in plants. The genetic diversity of multiple parents, recombined over several generations, generates a genetic resource population with large phenotypic diversity suitable for high-resolution trait mapping. While there are many variations on the general design, this review focuses on populations where the parents have all been inter-mated, typically termed Multi-parent Advanced Generation Intercrosses (MAGIC). Such populations have already been created in model animals and plants, and are emerging in many crop species. However, there has been little consideration of the full range of factors which create novel challenges for design and analysis in these populations. We will present brief descriptions of large MAGIC crop studies currently in progress to motivate discussion of population construction, efficient experimental design, and genetic analysis in these populations. In addition, we will highlight some recent achievements and discuss the opportunities and advantages to exploit the unique structure of these resources post-QTL analysis for gene discovery.