Unlocking the diversity of genebanks: whole-genome marker analysis of Swiss bread wheat and spelt
High-throughput genotyping of Swiss bread wheat and spelt accessions revealed differences in their gene pools and identified bread wheat landraces that were not used in breeding.
Genebanks play a pivotal role in preserving the genetic diversity present among old landraces and wild progenitors of modern crops and they represent sources of agriculturally important genes that were lost during domestication and in modern breeding. However, undesirable genes that negatively affect crop performance are often co-introduced when landraces and wild crop progenitors are crossed with elite cultivars, which often limit the use of genebank material in modern breeding programs. A detailed genetic characterization is an important prerequisite to solve this problem and to make genebank material more accessible to breeding. Here, we genotyped 502 bread wheat and 293 spelt accessions held in the Swiss National Genebank using a 15K wheat SNP array. The material included both spring and winter wheats and consisted of old landraces and modern cultivars. Genome- and sub-genome-wide analyses revealed that spelt and bread wheat form two distinct gene pools. In addition, we identified bread wheat landraces that were genetically distinct from modern cultivars. Such accessions were possibly missed in the early Swiss wheat breeding program and are promising targets for the identification of novel genes. The genetic information obtained in this study is appropriate to perform genome-wide association studies, which will facilitate the identification and transfer of agriculturally important genes from the genebank into modern cultivars through marker-assisted selection.
We thank Simon Fluckiger and Helen Zbinden for technical assistance with DNA extraction and Prof. Eduard Akhunov for providing the genotypic data of the international wheat accessions. This work was supported by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (BLW) in the framework of NAP-PGREL (national plan of action for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources). SGK is supported by an Ambizione fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The authors declare that this study complies with the current laws of the countries in which the experiments were performed.
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