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Identification of QTL regions for seedling root traits and their effect on nitrogen use efficiency in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

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Abstract

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QTL for a wheat ideotype root system and its plasticity to nitrogen deficiency were characterized.

Abstract

Root system architecture-related traits (RRTs) and their plasticity to nitrogen availability are important for nitrogen acquisition and yield formation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). In this study, quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis was conducted under different nitrogen conditions, using the seedlings of 188 recombinant inbred lines derived from a cross between Kenong 9204 and Jing 411. Fifty-three QTL for seven RRTs and fourteen QTL for the plasticity of these RRTs to nitrogen deficiency were detected. Thirty of these QTL were mapped in nine clusters on chromosomes 2B, 2D, 3A, 3D, 6B, 6D, 7A and 7B. Six of these nine clusters were also colocated with loci for nitrogen use efficiency (NUE)-related traits (NRTs). Among them, three QTL clusters (C2B, C6D and C7B) were highlighted, considering that they individually harbored three stable robust QTL (i.e., QMrl-2B.1, QdRs-6D and QMrl-7B). C2B and C7B stably contributed to the optimal root system, and C6D greatly affected the plasticity of RRTs in response to nitrogen deficiency. However, strong artificial selection was only observed for C7B in 574 derivatives of Kenong 9204. Covariance analysis identified QMrl-7B as the major contributor in C7B that affected the investigated NRTs in mature plants. Phenotypic analysis indicated that thousand kernel weight might represent a “concomitant” above-ground trait of the “hidden” RRTs controlled by C7B, which are used for breeding selection. Dissecting these QTL regions with potential breeding value will ultimately facilitate the selection of donor lines with both high yield and NUE in wheat breeding programs.

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Abbreviations

RSA:

Root system architecture

RRTs:

Root system architecture-related traits

MRL:

Maximum root length

RDW:

Root dry weight

RL:

Total root length

RS:

Root surface area

RV:

Root volume

RD:

Root diameter

RT:

Root tip number

RRTDV:

Phenotypic difference values of RRTs between low nitrogen treatment and control treatment

NUE:

Nitrogen use efficiency

NRTs:

Nitrogen use efficiency-related traits

UtEG:

NUE based on grain yield

NUP:

Nitrogen uptake content

NCT:

Nitrogen concentration

YRTs:

Yield-related traits

SN:

Spikelet number per spike

KN:

Kernel number per spike

GY:

Grain yield

TKW:

Thousand kernel weight

KJ-RIL:

Recombinant inbred line population derived from the cross between Kenong 9204 and Jing 411

MAS:

Marker-assisted selection

SNP:

Single-nucleotide polymorphism

CI:

Confidence interval

QTL:

Quantitative trait loci

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFD0100706), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31601809), West Light Foundation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2016XBZG_XBQNXZ_B_002), Shandong Provincial Science Foundation for Outstanding Youth (ZR2017JL017), Hebei Provincial Science and Technology Research and Development Project (16226320D) and China Agriculture Research System (CARS-03).

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Correspondence to Fa Cui, Tao Wang or Junming Li.

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Fan, X., Zhang, W., Zhang, N. et al. Identification of QTL regions for seedling root traits and their effect on nitrogen use efficiency in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Theor Appl Genet 131, 2677–2698 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-018-3183-6

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