, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 403-419

The genetics of nitrogen use in hexaploid wheat: N utilisation, development and yield

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A genetic study is presented for traits relating to nitrogen use in wheat. Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were established for 21 traits relating to growth, yield and leaf nitrogen (N) assimilation during grain fill in hexaploid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) using a mapping population from the cross Chinese Spring × SQ1. Glutamine synthetase (GS) isozymes and estimated locations of 126 genes were placed on the genetic map. QTLs for flag leaf GS activity, soluble protein, extract colour and fresh weight were found in similar regions implying shared control of leaf metabolism and leaf size. Flag leaf traits were negatively associated with days to anthesis both phenotypically and genetically, demonstrating the complex interactions of metabolism with development. One QTL cluster for GS activity co-localised with a GS2 gene mapped on chromosome 2A, and another with the mapped GSr gene on 4A. QTLs for GS activity were invariably co-localised with those for grain N, with increased activity associated with higher grain N, but with no or negative correlations with grain yield components. Peduncle N was positively correlated, and QTLs co-localised, with grain N and flag leaf N assimilatory traits, suggesting that stem N can be indicative of grain N status in wheat. A major QTL for ear number per plant was identified on chromosome 6B which was negatively co-localised with leaf fresh weight, peduncle N, grain N and grain yield. This locus is involved in processes defining the control of tiller number and consequently assimilate partitioning and deserves further examination.

Communicated by H. H. Geiger.