Arabinoxylans (AX) are major components of cell walls in wheat endosperm. The water-extractable part, WEAX, is considered as dietary fibres with health promoting effects. AX exhibit large natural variations in their amount but few studies have been carried out on the genetics of WEAX content and structure in bread wheat. We first carried out a “forward” quantitative genetic approach, using two recombinant populations derived from crosses between WEAX-high and WEAX-low parents and the viscosity of flour extract (WEAX-viscosity) as a predictor of WEAX content. This allowed us to identify two QTL regions, one of them, found on chromosome 6B in both populations, having a major effect with as much as 59% of the phenotypic variation explained by a single QTL. Then, we focused on key enzymes involved in the biosynthetic pathway of arabinoxylans. Out of 34 homoeologous candidate genes studied by sequencing a set of 46 lines, representing a worldwide diversity179 show no polymorphism. In the 16 polymorphic candidate genes, 80 SNP (in 15 genes) and 16 indels (in 4 genes) were detected. Then 27 SNP (in 13 genes) were genotyped in a larger collection of 156 lines (Healthgrain diversity screen). Eight associations were significant at an indicative 5% threshold, but only one, between COMT (Caffeic acid O methyltransferase) on chromosome 7A and A/X in WEAX was significant at a 1% level. The usefulness of these approaches and preliminary results for breeding is discussed.
KeywordsArabino-xylan QTL Candidate gene Association genetics
This study was financially supported by the European Commission in the Communities 6th Framework Programme, Project HEALTHGRAIN (FOOD-CT-2005-514008).
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