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Association between allelic variation at the Phytoene synthase 1 gene and yellow pigment content in the wheat grain

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A better understanding of the genetic factors controlling grain yellow pigment content (GYPC) is important for both pasta (high GYPC) and bread wheat (low GYPC) quality improvement. Quantitative trait loci (QTL) for GYPC have been mapped repeatedly on the distal regions of chromosome arms 7AL and 7BL in wheat, and the Phytoene synthase 1 (PSY-1) gene located in this region has been proposed as a candidate gene. We show here that PSY-E1, the tall wheatgrass orthologue, is completely linked to differences in GYPC, and that selection for white endosperm mutants in recombinant lines carrying this gene resulted in the identification of a mutation in a conserved amino acid of PSY-E1. These results, together with the association between GYPC and allelic differences in PSY-1 in hexaploid wheat, suggest that this gene plays an important role in the determination of GYPC. However, a second white endosperm mutant previously mapped to chromosome arm 7EL showed no mutations in PSY-E1 suggesting the existence of additional gene(s) affecting GYPC in this chromosome region. This hypothesis was further supported by the mapping of QTL for GYPC on 7AL proximal to PSY-1 in a cross between pasta wheat varieties UC1113 and Kofa. Interestingly, the Kofa PSY-B1 allele showed unusually high levels of polymorphisms as a result of a conversion event involving the PSY-A1 allele. In summary, our results support the hypothesis that allelic differences in PSY-1 and at least one additional gene in the distal region of the long arm of homoeologous group 7L are associated with differences in GYPC.

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The authors thank Dr D.R. Knott for the seeds of the white endosperm EMS mutants, Dr J. Dvorak for the “Cappelli mutant” seeds, Dr M. Maccaferri and Dr R. Tuberosa for the durum germplasm, Dr B. Gill for the Chinese Spring deletion lines, Dr A. Lukaszewski for the 7E recombinant lines, and Dr H. Bockelman at the National Small Grain Collection for all the additional germplasm used in this study. The authors also thank Dr C. Uauy and PhD student I. Lowe for their valuable suggestions and careful review of the manuscript. The project was supported by the National Research Initiative of USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, CAP grant number 2006-55606-16629.

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Correspondence to J. Dubcovsky.

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An erratum to this article can be found at

Communicated by B. Keller.

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Zhang, W., Dubcovsky, J. Association between allelic variation at the Phytoene synthase 1 gene and yellow pigment content in the wheat grain. Theor Appl Genet 116, 635–645 (2008).

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  • Quantitative Trait Locus
  • Hexaploid Wheat
  • Chinese Spring
  • Tetraploid Wheat
  • Recombinant Line