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Identification and validation of QTL for grain yield and plant water status under contrasting water treatments in fall-sown spring wheats

Zhang, Junli, Gizaw, Shiferaw Abate, Bossolini, Eligio, Hegarty, Joshua, Howell, Tyson, Carter, Arron H., Akhunov, Eduard, Dubcovsky, Jorge
Theoretical and applied genetics 2018 v.131 no.8 pp. 1741-1759
breeding programs, chromosomes, genome-wide association study, grain yield, human population, irrigation, plant height, quantitative trait loci, seeds, spikelets, spring wheat, variance, yield components
KEY MESSAGE : Chromosome regions affecting grain yield, grain yield components and plant water status were identified and validated in fall-sown spring wheats grown under full and limited irrigation. Increases in wheat production are required to feed a growing human population. To understand the genetic basis of grain yield in fall-sown spring wheats, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) including 262 photoperiod-insensitive spring wheat accessions grown under full and limited irrigation treatments. Analysis of molecular variance showed that 4.1% of the total variation in the panel was partitioned among accessions originally developed under fall-sowing or spring-sowing conditions, 11.7% among breeding programs within sowing times and 84.2% among accessions within breeding programs. We first identified QTL for grain yield, yield components and plant water status that were significant in at least three environments in the GWAS, and then selected those that were also significant in at least two environments in a panel of eight biparental mapping populations. We identified and validated 14 QTL for grain yield, 15 for number of spikelets per spike, one for kernel number per spike, 11 for kernel weight and 9 for water status, which were not associated with differences in plant height or heading date. We detected significant correlations among traits and colocated QTL that were consistent with those correlations. Among those, grain yield and plant water status were negatively correlated in all environments, and six QTL for these traits were colocated or tightly linked (< 1 cM). QTL identified and validated in this study provide useful information for the improvement of fall-sown spring wheats under full and limited irrigation.