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Allelic response of yield component traits to resource availability in spring wheat


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Investigation of resource availability on allele effects for four yield component quantitative trait loci provides guidance for the improvement of grain yield in high and low yielding environments.


A greater understanding of grain yield (GY) and yield component traits in spring wheat may increase selection efficiency for improved GY in high and low yielding environments. The objective of this study was to determine allelic response of four yield component quantitative trait loci (QTL) to variable resource levels which were manipulated by varying intraspecific plant competition and seeding density. The four QTL investigated in this study had been previously identified as impacting specific yield components. They included QTn.mst-6B for productive tiller number (PTN), WAPO-A1 for spikelet number per spike (SNS), and QGw.mst-3B and TaGW2-A1 for kernel weight (KWT). Near-isogenic lines for each of the four QTL were grown in multiple locations with three competition (border, no-border and space-planted) and two seeding densities (normal 216 seeds m−2 and low 76 seeds m−2). Allele response at QTn.mst-6B was driven by changes in resource availability, whereas allele response at WAPO-A1 and TaGW2-A1 was relatively unaffected by resource availability. The QTn.mst-6B.1 allele at QTn.mst-6B conferred PTN plasticity resulting in significant GY increases in high resource environments. The gw2-A1 allele at TaGW2-A1 significantly increased KWT, SNS and GPC offering a source of GY improvement without negatively impacting end-use quality. QGw.mst-3B allelic variation did not significantly impact KWT but did significantly impact SPS. Treatment effects in both experiments often resulted in significant positive impacts on GY and yield component traits when resource availability was increased. Results provide guidance for leveraging yield component QTL to improve GY performance in high- and low-yield environments.

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Fig. 1

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Days after planting


Flag leaf senescence


Green leaf duration after heading


Grain protein content


Grain yield


Heading date


Heterogeneous inbred family


Kernel weight


Near-isogenic line


Productive tiller number


Quantitative trait loci


Recombinant inbred line


Spikelet number per spike


Seeds per spike


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Research was supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants 2011-68002-30029 (T-CAP) and 2017-67007-25939 (WheatCAP) from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee and the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station.

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BJ contributed the majority of experimental work; NB, HH and JT contributed to field design and phenotypic data collection; JM aided in the writing of statistical code and contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data. LT initiated and coordinated the project, contributed to data analysis and final manuscript writing and preparation. All authors reviewed the manuscript and provided suggestions.

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Correspondence to Brittney H. Jones or Luther E. Talbert.

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

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Data provided in supplementary files.

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Communicated by Susanne Dreisigacker.

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Jones, B.H., Blake, N.K., Heo, HY. et al. Allelic response of yield component traits to resource availability in spring wheat. Theor Appl Genet 134, 603–620 (2021).

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