An annotated reference sequence representing the hexaploid bread wheat genome in 21 pseudomolecules has been analyzed to identify the distribution and genomic context of coding and noncoding elements across the A, B, and D subgenomes. With an estimated coverage of 94% of the genome and containing 107,891 high-confidence gene models, this assembly enabled the discovery of tissue- and developmental stage–related coexpression networks by providing a transcriptome atlas representing major stages of wheat development. Dynamics of complex gene families involved in environmental adaptation and end-use quality were revealed at subgenome resolution and contextualized to known agronomic single-gene or quantitative trait loci. This community resource establishes the foundation for accelerating wheat research and application through improved understanding of wheat biology and genomics-assisted breeding.
Advances in genomics have expedited the improvement of several agriculturally important crops but similar efforts in wheat (Triticum spp.) have been more challenging. This is largely owing to the size and complexity of the wheat genome1, and the lack of genome-assembly data for multiple wheat lines2,3. Here we generated ten chromosome pseudomolecule and five scaffold assemblies of hexaploid wheat to explore the genomic diversity among wheat lines from global breeding programs. Comparative analysis revealed extensive structural rearrangements, introgressions from wild relatives and differences in gene content resulting from complex breeding histories aimed at improving adaptation to diverse environments, grain yield and quality, and resistance to stresses4,5. We provide examples outlining the utility of these genomes, including a detailed multi-genome-derived nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat protein repertoire involved in disease resistance and the characterization of Sm16, a gene associated with insect resistance. These genome assemblies will provide a basis for functional gene discovery and breeding to deliver the next generation of modern wheat cultivars.
Modern wheat production comes from two polyploid species, Triticum aestivum and Triticum turgidum (var durum), which putatively arose from diploid ancestors Triticum urartu, Aegilops speltoides, and Aegilops tauschii. How gene expression during embryogenesis and grain development in wheats has been shaped by the differing contributions of diploid genomes through hybridization, polyploidization, and breeding selection is not well understood. This study describes the global landscape of gene activities during wheat embryogenesis and grain development. Using comprehensive transcriptomic analyses of two wheat cultivars and three diploid grasses, we investigated gene expression at seven stages of embryo development, two endosperm stages, and one pericarp stage. We identified transcriptional signatures and developmental similarities and differences among the five species, revealing the evolutionary divergence of gene expression programs and the contributions of A, B, and D subgenomes to grain development in polyploid wheats. The characterization of embryonic transcriptional programming in hexaploid wheat, tetraploid wheat, and diploid grass species provides insight into the landscape of gene expression in modern wheat and its ancestral species. This study presents a framework for understanding the evolution of domesticated wheat and the selective pressures placed on grain production, with important implications for future performance and yield improvements.
Durum wheat was introduced in the southern prairies of western Canada in the late nineteenth century. Breeding efforts have mainly focused on improving quality traits to meet the pasta industry demands. For this study, 192 durum wheat lines were genotyped using the Illumina 90K Infinium iSelect assay, and resulted in a total of 14,324 polymorphic SNPs. Genetic diversity changed over time, declining during the first 20 years of breeding in Canada, then increased in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We scanned the genome for signatures of selection, using the total variance Fst-based outlier detection method (Lositan), the hierarchical island model (Arlequin) and the Bayesian genome scan method (BayeScan). A total of 407 outliers were identified and clustered into 84 LD-based haplotype loci, spanning all 14 chromosomes of the durum wheat genome. The association analysis detected 54 haplotype loci, of which 39% contained markers with a complete reversal of allelic state. This tendency to fixation of favorable alleles corroborates the success of the Canadian durum wheat breeding programs over time. Twenty-one haplotype loci were associated with multiple traits. In particular, hap_4B_1 explained 20.6, 17.9 and 16.6% of the phenotypic variance of pigment loss, pasta b∗ and dough extensibility, respectively. The locus hap_2B_9 explained 15.9 and 17.8% of the variation of protein content and protein loss, respectively. All these pleiotropic haplotype loci offer breeders the unique opportunity for further improving multiple traits, facilitating marker-assisted selection in durum wheat, and could help in identifying genes as functional annotations of the wheat genome become available.
Breeding for solid-stemmed durum (Triticum turgidum L. var durum) and common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars is one strategy to minimize yield losses caused by the wheat stem sawfly (Cephus cinctus Norton). Major stem-solidness QTL have been localized to the long arm of chromosome 3B in both wheat species, but it is unclear if these QTL span a common genetic interval. In this study, we have improved the resolution of the QTL on chromosome 3B in a durum (Kofa/W9262-260D3) and common wheat (Lillian/Vesper) mapping population. Coincident QTL (LOD = 94–127, R2 = 78–92%) were localized near the telomere of chromosome 3BL in both mapping populations, which we designate SSt1. We further examined the SSt1 interval by using available consensus maps for durum and common wheat and compared genetic to physical intervals by anchoring markers to the current version of the wild emmer wheat (WEW) reference sequence. These results suggest that the SSt1 interval spans a physical distance of 1.6 Mb in WEW (positions 833.4–835.0 Mb). In addition, minor QTL were identified on chromosomes 2A, 2D, 4A, and 5A that were found to synergistically enhance expression of SSt1 to increase stem-solidness. These results suggest that developing new wheat cultivars with improved stem-solidness is possible by combining SSt1 with favorable alleles at minor loci within both wheat species.
Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a major fungal disease affecting wheat production worldwide. Since the early 1990s, FHB, caused primarily by Fusarium graminearum, has become one of the most significant diseases faced by wheat producers in Canada and the United States. The increasing FHB problem is likely due to the increased adoption of conservation tillage practices, expansion of maize production, use of susceptible wheat varieties in rotation, and climate variability. Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum sp. durum) is notorious for its extreme susceptibility to FHB and breeding for resistance is complicated because sources of FHB resistance are rare in the primary gene pool of tetraploid wheat. Losses due to this disease include yield, test weight, seed quality, food and feed quality, and when severe, market access. More importantly, it is the contamination with mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol, in Fusarium-infected durum kernels that causes the most serious economic as well as food and feed safety concerns. Several studies and thorough reviews have been published on germplasm development and breeding for FHB resistance and the genetics and genomics of FHB resistance in bread or common wheat (T. aestivum); however, similar reviews have not been conducted in durum wheat. Thus, the aim of this review is to summarize and discuss the recent research efforts to mitigate FHB in durum wheat, including quantitative trait locus mapping, genome-wide association studies, genomic prediction, mutagenesis and characterization of genes and pathways involved in FHB resistance. It also highlights future directions, FHB-resistant germplasm, and the potential role of morphological traits to enhance FHB resistance in durum wheat.
Genotype × environment interaction (GE) is a perennial problem in plant breeding and must be dealt with. Dealing with GE starts with differentiation of repeatable GE from unrepeatable GE in a target region. Repeatable GE can be used by dividing the target region into mega‐environments (MEs) and breeding ME‐specific cultivars, and unrepeatable GE must be accommodated by testing adequately within a ME. This study applied LG (location‐grouping) biplot analysis to several datasets from multiyear oat (Avena sativa L.) variety trials conducted at locations across Canada. Analysis showed that the oat growing regions in Canada can be divided into three MEs: the crown rust (Puccinia coronata Corda f. sp. avenae Eriks.) prone regions in southern and eastern Ontario (ME1), other regions in eastern Canada (ME2), and the Canadian Prairies (ME3). In addition, two sub‐MEs existed within ME2. Latitude was shown to be the main factor for the ME differentiation. The results suggest that oat variety trials should be conducted and cultivar recommendation be made according to MEs, as opposed to by administrative regions that are currently in place.
The wheat stem sawfly (WSS) (Cephus cinctus; Hymenoptera: Cephidae) is a destructive insect pest of spring, winter (Triticum aestivum L.), and durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var. durum) in North America. Sawfly larvae hatch from eggs deposited inside the stem, and their subsequent feeding damages vascular tissue, reducing photosynthetic capacity and grain yields. Growing solid‐stemmed wheat cultivars that develop pith in the culm lumen is the most effective method to minimize yield losses. Recent work has focused on optimizing sowing densities to achieve maximum levels of pith expression and grain yields in common wheat; however, little research has been conducted on durum wheat. We investigated the influence of four sowing densities (150, 250, 350, 450 seeds m−2) on pith expression in two newly released solid‐stemmed durum cultivars, CDC Fortitude and AAC Raymore, and compared them to the solid‐stemmed common wheat cultivar, Lillian. CDC Fortitude and AAC Raymore displayed consistently high levels of pith expression across environments and sowing densities, in contrast to Lillian, which produced only slightly more pith than the hollow‐stemmed durum check cultivar, Strongfield. A yield drag often associated with high pith expression was not evident as CDC Fortitude and AAC Raymore produced grain yield similar to Strongfield. When averaged over cultivars, increasing sowing density had a positive effect on grain yield, but was negatively associated with stem solidness. Our findings suggest that, unlike with CWRS solid‐stemmed cultivars, altering sowing density is not required to achieve effective sawfly resistance with CDC Fortitude and AAC Raymore.
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