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The genetic basis of durum wheat germination and seedling growth under osmotic stress


Durum wheat (Triticum turgidum L. var. durum) is mainly produced under rainfed but often sub-optimal moisture conditions in the Mediterranean basin. A set of 114 durum wheat recombinant inbred lines (RILs) developed from the cross of cultivars Omrabi5 × Belikh2 were tested for the ability to tolerate moisture deficiency at the germination and early seedling growth stage. The stress was imposed by exposing the germinating grain to 12 % polyethylene glycol. It induced a measurable reduction in root length, shoot length, and the percentage of normal seedlings. The germination and seedling growth of Belikh2 were more strongly inhibited than those of Omrabi5, and both parents were outperformed by > 50 % of the RILs. A quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was carried out by first assembling a linkage map from 265 informative microsatellites. Composite interval mapping revealed nine QTL spread over seven chromosomes. Five of these were associated with coleoptile length, and one of the five explained nearly 29 % of the relevant phenotypic variance. The coleoptile length was significantly correlated with the seedling growth, plant height, and thousand kernel mass derived from field-grown plants of the same RIL population.

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Beltsville Agricultural Research Centre


Gatersleben Wheat Microsatellite

H2 :

broad-sense heritability


International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas


International Seed Testing Association


logarithm of odds


normal seedling


polyethylene glycol


quantitative trait locus


recombinant inbred line


total germinated seedlings


tolerance index


Wheat Microsatellite Consortium


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Correspondence to M. Nagel.

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Acknowledgements: We thank Ahmed Alsaleh, Annett Marlow, Hani Hazzam, Mohamed Azrak, Peter Schreiber, Saer Dawer, and Stefanie Thumm for their help with plant and laboratory work. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit is acknowledged for its financial support under the Project 07.7860.5-001.00. The first two authors contributed equally to this paper.

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Nagel, M., Navakode, S., Scheibal, V. et al. The genetic basis of durum wheat germination and seedling growth under osmotic stress. Biol Plant 58, 681–688 (2014).

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Additional key words

  • drought stress
  • polyethylene glycol
  • QTL
  • recombinant inbred lines
  • seed size
  • seed vigour
  • Triticum durum