Introgression of an expressed HMW 1Ay glutenin subunit allele into bread wheat cv. Lincoln increases grain protein content and breadmaking quality without yield penalty

  • Nandita Roy
  • Shahidul Islam
  • Zitong Yu
  • Meiqin Lu
  • Domenico Lafiandra
  • Yun Zhao
  • Masood Anwar
  • Jorge E. Mayer
  • Wujun MaEmail author
Original Article


Key message

An expressed HMW glutenin subunit Glu-Ay showed positive impacts on a range of wheat processing quality and yield traits. The grain protein compositions are significantly optimised for baking, resulting in a better breadmaking quality.


The unique breadmaking properties of wheat flour are related to the quality and quantity of high-molecular weight glutenin subunits (HMW-GSs) present in the grain. In the current study, the silent 1Ay HMW-GS allele, present in most bread wheat cultivars, was replaced by the expressed 1Ay21* allele, which was introgressed into Australian bread wheat cultivar Lincoln by a backcrossing and selfing scheme. Stability of gene expression and the effect of the introgressed 1Ay21* subunit on protein composition, agronomic traits, flour functionality, and breadmaking quality were studied using BC4F5 grain grown in glasshouse and field. Field phenotyping and grain quality testing showed that the 1Ay21* gene conferred significant improvements to a range of traits, including an increase in grain protein content by up to 9%, UPP% by up to 24%, bread volume by up to 28%. The glasshouse experiment and one of the field trials showed positive 1Ay21* effects on yield, while one field trial showed one significant effects. This indicates that expression of the 1Ay21* gene has the potential of simultaneously increasing protein content and grain yield under certain environment. The qualitative improvements of the grain also led to a reduction of the energy required during the baking process in addition to the significant positive effects on bread quality.


Expressed Glu-Ay subunit Grain yield Protein content HMW glutenin Wheat Breadmaking 



This research is financially supported by the Australian Grain Research and Development Corporation Projects UMU00036 and UMU00043. On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Authors' contribution

NR conducted the experiments and wrote the manuscript; SI involved in laboratory work, supervision, and manuscript writing; ZY conducted HPLC work; ML performed field trial and quality testing; DL supplied the germplasm and revised the manuscript; YZ involved in HPLC work; MA involved in phenotyping work; JEM contributed to experiment design, result interpretation, and manuscript writing; WM designed and supervised the study as well as finalised the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Australia-China Joint Centre for Wheat Improvement, State Agriculture Biotechnology CentreMurdoch UniversityPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Grain TechnologiesNarrabriAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Sciences and Technology for Agriculture, Forest, Environment and EnergyTuscia UniversityViterboItaly
  4. 4.Ag RD&IP Consult P/LCanberraAustralia

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