, Volume 154, Issue 1-2, pp 207-218
Date: 01 Nov 2006

Genetic analysis of flowering and maturity time in high latitude spring wheat

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Due to the short growing season in the high northern latitudes, the development of early maturing spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars is important to avoid frost damage which can lower production and quality. We investigated earliness of flowering and maturity, and some associated agronomic traits, using a set of randomly selected high northern latitude adapted spring wheat cultivars (differing in maturity) and their F1 and F2 crosses made in a one-way diallel mating design. The parents, and their F1 and F2 crosses were evaluated under field conditions over 2 years. Anthesis and maturity times were controlled by both vernalization response and earliness per se genes, mainly acting additively. Non-additive genetic effects were more important in controlling grain fill duration, grain yield and plant height. Additive × additive epistatic effects were detected for all traits studied except time to anthesis. Segregation analyses of the F2 populations for time to anthesis indicated the presence of different vernalization response genes. Molecular genetic analyses revealed the presence of Vrn-A1 and Vrn-B1 genes in the parental cultivars. Narrow-sense heritability was medium to high (60–86%) for anthesis and maturity times but low to medium (13–55%) for grain fill duration, plant height and grain yield. Selection for early flowering/maturity in early segregating generations would be expected to result in genetic improvement towards earliness in high latitude spring wheats. Incorporation of the vernalization responsive gene Vrn-B1 in combination with vernalization non-responsive gene Vrn-A1 into spring wheats would aid in the development of early maturing cultivars with high grain yield potential for the high latitude wheat growing regions of the northern hemisphere.