Mixed-model QTL mapping for kernel hardness and dough strength in bread wheat
Plant breeding data comprise unbalanced phenotypic data for inbreds with complex pedigrees. As traditional methods to map quantitative trait loci (QTL) cannot exploit plant breeding data, an alternative approach is QTL mapping via a mixed-model procedure. Our objective was to validate mixed-model QTL mapping for self-pollinated crops by detecting QTL for kernel hardness and dough strength from data in a bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) breeding program. We studied 80 parental and 373 experimental inbreds genotyped for 65 simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers and three candidate loci. The methodology involved three steps: variance component estimation, single-marker analyses, and a final multiple-marker analysis with marker effects treated as fixed effects. Two QTLs for kernel hardness were detected on chromosomes 1A (close to candidate locus GluA3) and 5D (close to candidate locus Ha). Four QTLs were detected for dough strength on chromosomes 1A, 1B, 1D, and 5B. Candidate gene GluA1, which was associated with dough strength, was the only candidate locus found significant. Results were consistent with previously reported markers and QTLs associated with kernel hardness and dough strength. Unlike previous studies that have assumed QTL effects as random, the assumption of fixed marker effects identified the favorable marker alleles to select for. We conclude that the detection of previously mapped QTL validates the usefulness of mixed-model QTL mapping in the context of a plant-breeding program.