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Improving the baking quality of bread wheat by genomic selection in early generations

Michel, Sebastian, Kummer, Christian, Gallee, Martin, Hellinger, Jakob, Ametz, Christian, Akgöl, Batuhan, Epure, Doru, Löschenberger, Franziska, Buerstmayr, Hermann
Theoretical and applied genetics 2018 v.131 no.2 pp. 477-493
baking quality, breads, dough, genetic improvement, genotyping, grain yield, marker-assisted selection, mixing, models, phenotype, phenotypic selection, prediction, protein content, quantitative trait loci, selection response, viscoelasticity, wheat
KEY MESSAGE: Genomic selection shows great promise for pre-selecting lines with superior bread baking quality in early generations, 3 years ahead of labour-intensive, time-consuming, and costly quality analysis. The genetic improvement of baking quality is one of the grand challenges in wheat breeding as the assessment of the associated traits often involves time-consuming, labour-intensive, and costly testing forcing breeders to postpone sophisticated quality tests to the very last phases of variety development. The prospect of genomic selection for complex traits like grain yield has been shown in numerous studies, and might thus be also an interesting method to select for baking quality traits. Hence, we focused in this study on the accuracy of genomic selection for laborious and expensive to phenotype quality traits as well as its selection response in comparison with phenotypic selection. More than 400 genotyped wheat lines were, therefore, phenotyped for protein content, dough viscoelastic and mixing properties related to baking quality in multi-environment trials 2009–2016. The average prediction accuracy across three independent validation populations was r = 0.39 and could be increased to r = 0.47 by modelling major QTL as fixed effects as well as employing multi-trait prediction models, which resulted in an acceptable prediction accuracy for all dough rheological traits (r = 0.38–0.63). Genomic selection can furthermore be applied 2–3 years earlier than direct phenotypic selection, and the estimated selection response was nearly twice as high in comparison with indirect selection by protein content for baking quality related traits. This considerable advantage of genomic selection could accordingly support breeders in their selection decisions and aid in efficiently combining superior baking quality with grain yield in newly developed wheat varieties.