Grain morphology in wheat (Triticum aestivum) has been selected and manipulated even in very early agrarian societies and remains a major breeding target. We undertook a large-scale quantitative analysis to determine the genetic basis of the phenotypic diversity in wheat grain morphology. A high-throughput method was used to capture grain size and shape variation in multiple mapping populations, elite varieties, and a broad collection of ancestral wheat species. This analysis reveals that grain size and shape are largely independent traits in both primitive wheat and in modern varieties. This phenotypic structure was retained across the mapping populations studied, suggesting that these traits are under the control of a limited number of discrete genetic components. We identified the underlying genes as quantitative trait loci that are distinct for grain size and shape and are largely shared between the different mapping populations. Moreover, our results show a significant reduction of phenotypic variation in grain shape in the modern germplasm pool compared with the ancestral wheat species, probably as a result of a relatively recent bottleneck. Therefore, this study provides the genetic underpinnings of an emerging phenotypic model where wheat domestication has transformed a long thin primitive grain to a wider and shorter modern grain.
Variation in ear emergence time is critical for the adaptation of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) to specific environments. The aim of this study was to identify genes controlling ear emergence time in elite European winter wheat germplasm. Four doubled haploid populations derived from the crosses: Avalon x Cadenza, Savannah x Rialto, Spark x Rialto, and Charger x Badger were selected which represent diversity in European winter wheat breeding programmes. Ear emergence time was recorded as the time from 1st May to heading in replicated field trials in the UK, France and Germany. Genetic maps based on simple sequence repeat (SSR) and Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) markers were constructed for each population. One hundred and twenty-seven significant QTL were identified in the four populations. These effects were condensed into 19 meta-QTL projected onto a consensus SSR map of wheat. These effects are located on chromosomes 1B (2 meta-QTL), 1D, 2A (2 meta-QTL), 3A, 3B (2 meta-QTL), 4B, 4D, 5A (2 meta-QTL), 5B, 6A, 6B 7A (2 meta-QTL), 7B and 7D. The identification of environmentally robust earliness per se effects will facilitate the fine tuning of ear emergence in predictive wheat breeding programmes.
The genetic variability of the duration of leaf senescence during grain filling has been shown to affect both carbon and nitrogen acquisition. In particular, maintaining green leaves during grain filling possibly leads to increased grain yield, but its associated effect on grain protein concentration has not been studied. The aim of this study was to dissect the genetic factors contributing to correlations observed at the phenotypic level between leaf senescence during grain filling, grain protein concentration, and grain yield in winter wheat. With this aim in view, an analysis of quantitative trait locus (QTL) co-locations for these traits was carried out on a doubled haploid mapping population grown in a large multienvironment trial network. Pleiotropic QTLs affecting leaf senescence and grain yield and/or grain protein concentration were identified on chromosomes 2D, 2A, and 7D. These were associated with QTLs for anthesis date, showing that the phenotypic correlations with leaf senescence were mainly explained by flowering time in this wheat population. Study of the allelic effects of these pleiotropic QTLs showed that delaying leaf senescence was associated with increased grain yield or grain protein concentration depending on the environments considered. It is proposed that this differential effect of delaying leaf senescence on grain yield and grain protein concentration might be related to the nitrogen availability during the post-anthesis period. It is concluded that the benefit of using leaf senescence as a selection criterion to improve grain protein concentration in wheat cultivars may be limited and would largely depend on the targeted environments, particularly on their nitrogen availability during the post-anthesis period.
The Lr34/Yr18 adult plant resistance gene contributes significantly to durable leaf rust (caused by Puccinia triticina Eriks.) resistance. Simple and robust molecular markers that enable early detection of Lr34/Yr18 are a major advancement in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) breeding. An insertion/deletion size variant located at the csLV34 locus on chromosome 7D within an intron sequence of a sulfate transporter‐like gene tightly linked to the Lr34/Yr18 dual rust resistance gene was used to examine a global collection of wheat cultivars, landraces, and D genome–containing diploid and polyploid species of wheat relatives. Two predominant allelic size variants, csLV34a and b, found among the wheat cultivars showed disparate variation in different wheat growing zones. A strong association was observed between the presence of Lr34/Yr18 and the csLV34b allele and wheat lines known to have Lr34/Yr18 that had the csLV34a allele were rare. All landraces with the exception of those from China were predominantly of the csLV34a type. Only one size variant, csLV34a, was detected among the diploid and polyploid D genome–containing species, indicating that csLV34b arose subsequent to hexaploid bread wheat synthesis. The lineage of the csLV34b allele associated with Lr34/Yr18 in modern wheat cultivars from North and South America, CIMMYT, Australia, and Russia was tracked back to the cultivars Mentana and Ardito developed in Italy by Nazareno Strampelli in the early 1900s. The robustness of the csLV34 marker in postulating the likely occurrence of Lr34/Yr18 across a wide range of wheat germplasm and its utility in wheat breeding was confirmed.
Key messageA high level of genetic diversity was found in the A. E. Watkins bread wheat landrace collection. Genotypic information was used to determine the population structure and to develop germplasm resources.Abstract In the 1930s A. E. Watkins acquired landrace cultivars of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) from official channels of the board of Trade in London, many of which originated from local markets in 32 countries. The geographic distribution of the 826 landrace cultivars of the current collection, here called the Watkins collection, covers many Asian and European countries and some from Africa. The cultivars were genotyped with 41 microsatellite markers in order to investigate the genetic diversity and population structure of the collection. A high level of genetic diversity was found, higher than in a collection of modern European winter bread wheat varieties from 1945 to 2000. Furthermore, although weak, the population structure of the Watkins collection reveals nine ancestral geographical groupings. An exchange of genetic material between ancestral groups before commercial wheat-breeding started would be a possible explanation for this. The increased knowledge regarding the diversity of the Watkins collection was used to develop resources for wheat research and breeding, one of them a core set, which captures the majority of the genetic diversity detected. The understanding of genetic diversity and population structure together with the availability of breeding resources should help to accelerate the detection of new alleles in the Watkins collection.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-014-2344-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Vernalization, photoperiod and the relatively poorly defined earliness per se (eps) genes regulate flowering in plants. We report here the validation of a major eps quantitative trait locus (QTL) located on wheat 1DL using near isogenic lines (NILs). We used four independent pairs of NILs derived from a cross between Spark and Rialto winter wheat varieties, grown in both the field and controlled environments. NILs carrying the Spark allele, defined by QTL flanking markers Xgdm111 and Xbarc62, consistently flowered 3–5 days earlier when fully vernalized relative to those with the Rialto. The effect was independent of photoperiod under field conditions, short days (10-h light), long days (16-h light) and very long days (20-h light). These results validate our original QTL identified using doubled haploid (DH) populations. This QTL represents variation maintained in elite north-western European winter wheat germplasm. The two DH lines used to develop the NILs, SR9 and SR23 enabled us to define the location of the 1DL QTL downstream of marker Xgdm111. SR9 has the Spark 1DL arm while SR23 has a recombinant 1DL arm with the Spark allele from Xgdm111 to the distal end. Our work suggests that marker assisted selection of eps effects is feasible and useful even before the genes are cloned. This means eps genes can be defined and positionally cloned in the same way as the photoperiod and vernalization genes have been. This validation study is a first step towards fine mapping and eventually cloning the gene directly in hexaploid wheat.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11032-014-0094-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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