Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 489–500 | Cite as

Dissecting the genetics underlying the relationship between protein content and grain yield in a large hybrid wheat population

  • Patrick Thorwarth
  • Guozheng Liu
  • Erhard Ebmeyer
  • Johannes Schacht
  • Ralf Schachschneider
  • Ebrahim Kazman
  • Jochen Christoph Reif
  • Tobias Würschum
  • Carl Friedrich Horst LonginEmail author
Original Article


Key message

Additive and dominance effect QTL for grain yield and protein content display antagonistic pleiotropic effects, making genomic selection based on the index grain protein deviation a promising method to alleviate the negative correlation between these traits in wheat breeding.


Grain yield and quality-related traits such as protein content and sedimentation volume are key traits in wheat breeding. In this study, we used a large population of 1604 hybrids and their 135 parental components to investigate the genetics and metabolomics underlying the negative relationship of grain yield and quality, and evaluated approaches for their joint improvement. We identified a total of nine trait-associated metabolites and show that prediction using genomic data alone resulted in the highest prediction ability for all traits. We dissected the genetic architecture of grain yield and quality-determining traits and show results of the first mapping of the derived trait grain protein deviation. Further, we provide a genetic analysis of the antagonistic relation of grain yield and protein content and dissect the mode of gene action (pleiotropy vs linkage) of identified QTL. Lastly, we demonstrate that the composition of the training set for genomic prediction is crucial when considering different quality classes in wheat breeding.



We acknowledge the funding of the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (Grant FKZ0103010) which supported the work within the ZUCHTWERT Project and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the HYWHEAT project (Grant FKZ0315945D).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standard

The authors declare that the experiments comply with the current laws of Germany.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 673 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 166 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (XLSX 10 kb)
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Supplementary material 4 (XLSX 926 kb)
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Supplementary material 5 (XLSX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Plant Breeding InstituteUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.BASF Agricultural Solutions Seed GmbHSeelandGermany
  3. 3.KWS LOCHOW GmbHBergenGermany
  4. 4.Limagrain GmbHPeine-RosenthalGermany
  5. 5.Nordsaat Saatzuchtgesellschaft mbHLangensteinGermany
  6. 6.Syngenta GmbHHadmerslebenGermany
  7. 7.Department of Breeding ResearchLeibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)GaterslebenGermany

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