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Candidate genes and genome-wide association study of grain protein content and protein deviation in durum wheat

Nigro, D., Gadaleta, A., Mangini, G., Colasuonno, P., Marcotuli, I., Giancaspro, A., Giove, S. L., Simeone, R., Blanco, A.
Planta 2019 v.249 no.4 pp. 1157-1175
breeding programs, chromosome mapping, durum wheat, field experimentation, genes, genetic relationships, genome-wide association study, genotyping, germplasm, grain protein, grain yield, marker-assisted selection, nitrogen metabolism, protein content, quantitative trait loci, rheological properties, storage proteins
MAIN CONCLUSION: Stable QTL for grain protein content co-migrating with nitrogen-related genes have been identified by the candidate genes and genome-wide association mapping approaches useful for marker-assisted selection. Grain protein content (GPC) is one of the most important quality traits in wheat, defining the nutritional and end-use properties and rheological characteristics. Over the years, a number of breeding programs have been developed aimed to improving GPC, most of them having been prevented by the negative correlation with grain yield. To overcome this issue, a collection of durum wheat germplasm was evaluated for both GPC and grain protein deviation (GPD) in seven field trials. Fourteen candidate genes involved in several processes related to nitrogen metabolism were precisely located on two high-density consensus maps of common and durum wheat, and six of them were found to be highly associated with both traits. The wheat collection was genotyped using the 90 K iSelect array, and 11 stable quantitative trait loci (QTL) for GPC were detected in at least three environments and the mean across environments by the genome-wide association mapping. Interestingly, seven QTL were co-migrating with N-related candidate genes. Four QTL were found to be significantly associated to increases of GPD, indicating that selecting for GPC could not affect final grain yield per spike. The combined approaches of candidate genes and genome-wide association mapping led to a better understanding of the genetic relationships between grain storage proteins and grain yield per spike, and provided useful information for marker-assisted selection programs.