Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 130, Issue 10, pp 2151–2164 | Cite as

Exploring new alleles for frost tolerance in winter rye

  • Wiltrud Erath
  • Eva Bauer
  • D. Brian Fowler
  • Andres Gordillo
  • Viktor Korzun
  • Mira Ponomareva
  • Malthe Schmidt
  • Brigitta Schmiedchen
  • Peer Wilde
  • Chris-Carolin Schön
Original Article


Key message

Rye genetic resources provide a valuable source of new alleles for the improvement of frost tolerance in rye breeding programs.


Frost tolerance is a must-have trait for winter cereal production in northern and continental cropping areas. Genetic resources should harbor promising alleles for the improvement of frost tolerance of winter rye elite lines. For frost tolerance breeding, the identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) and the choice of optimum genome-based selection methods are essential. We identified genomic regions involved in frost tolerance of winter rye by QTL mapping in a biparental population derived from a highly frost tolerant selection from the Canadian cultivar Puma and the European elite line Lo157. Lines per se and their testcrosses were phenotyped in a controlled freeze test and in multi-location field trials in Russia and Canada. Three QTL on chromosomes 4R, 5R, and 7R were consistently detected across environments. The QTL on 5R is congruent with the genomic region harboring the Frost resistance locus 2 (Fr2) in Triticeae. The Puma allele at the FrR2 locus was found to significantly increase frost tolerance. A comparison of predictive ability obtained from the QTL-based model with different whole-genome prediction models revealed that besides a few large, also small QTL effects contribute to the genomic variance of frost tolerance in rye. Genomic prediction models assigning a high weight to the FrR2 locus allow increasing the selection intensity for frost tolerance by genome-based pre-selection of promising candidates.



This research was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, Germany) within the project RYE SELECT (Grant ID 0315946). The authors are grateful to the field and lab team of KWS Lochow GmbH and to Stefan Schwertfirm and Amalie Fiedler from TUM for the technical assistance. The technical assistance of G. Schellhorn, Plant Sciences Department, University of Saskatchewan is also gratefully acknowledged. The authors thank Prof. Dr. H. Friedrich Utz (University of Hohenheim) for providing an extension of PlabMQTL which enabled the comparison of QTL and GP models.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

The authors declare that this study complies with the current laws of the countries in which the experiments were performed.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 4 (XLSX 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TUM School of Life Sciences, Plant BreedingTechnical University of MunichFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada
  3. 3.KWS Lochow GmbHBergenGermany
  4. 4.Department of GeneticsKazan (Volga Region) Federal UniversityKazanRussia

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