Genetic dissection of grain yield and physical grain quality in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) under water-limited environments
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In the water-limited bread wheat production environment of southern Australia, large advances in grain yield have previously been achieved through the introduction and improved understanding of agronomic traits controlled by major genes, such as the semi-dwarf plant stature and photoperiod insensitivity. However, more recent yield increases have been achieved through incremental genetic advances, of which, breeders and researchers do not fully understand the underlying mechanism(s). A doubled haploid population was utilised, derived from a cross between RAC875, a relatively drought-tolerant breeders’ line and Kukri, a locally adapted variety more intolerant of drought. Experiments were performed in 16 environments over four seasons in southern Australia, to physiologically dissect grain yield and to detect quantitative trait loci (QTL) for these traits. Two stage multi-environment trial analysis identified three main clusters of experiments (forming distinctive environments, ENVs), each with a distinctive growing season rainfall patterns. Kernels per square metre were positively correlated with grain yield and influenced by kernels per spikelet, a measure of fertility. QTL analysis detected nine loci for grain yield across these ENVs, individually accounting for between 3 and 18% of genetic variance within their respective ENVs, with the RAC875 allele conferring increased grain yield at seven of these loci. These loci were partially dissected by the detection of co-located QTL for other traits, namely kernels per square metre. While most loci for grain yield have previously been reported, their deployment and effect within local germplasm are now better understood. A number of novel loci can be further exploited to aid breeders’ efforts in improving grain yield in the southern Australian environment.
KeywordsQuantitative Trait Locus Flag Leaf Doubled Haploid Population Spikelet Fertility Water Soluble Carbohydrate
Help from James Edwards with some data collection and preliminary analysis was much appreciated. The assistance of the Australian Grain Technologies field teams at all nodes is gratefully acknowledged for their excellent trial management; particularly the Roseworthy team for assistance with some sample collection, the loan of equipment for data collection and facilities for sample storage. Thank you also to the team at the Minnipa Research Station for their assistance with data and sample collection and excellent trial management, in particular Leigh Davis and Willie Shoobridge. Funding from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, South Australian State Government, Adelaide University and the South Australian Grains Industry Trust made this project possible and is also gratefully acknowledged.
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