Association mapping of drought tolerance indices in wheat
QTL-rich regions on chromosome 4A
Drought is likely the main abiotic stress that affects wheat yield. The identification of drought-tolerant genotypes represents an effective way of dealing with the continuous decrease in water resources as well as the increase in world population. The aim of this study was to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) associated with drought tolerance indices in wheat by using a genome-wide association study (GWAS) under fully irrigated and rain-fed conditions. The drought tolerance indices (i.e., Stress Susceptibility Index, Stress Tolerance Index, Tolerance Index and Yield Stability Index) were calculated based on grain yield, 1,000-kernel weight and kernels per spike. The association panel was genotyped using genotyping-bysequencing (GBS). A total of 175 SNPs exhibited statistical evidence of association with at least one drought tolerance index, explaining up to 6 % of the phenotypic variation. Forty-five SNPs were associated with more than one tolerance index (up to 4 agronomic traits). Most associations were located on chromosome 4A, supporting the hypothesis that this chromosome has a key role in drought tolerance which should be exploited for wheat improvement. In addition, statistical analysis detected SNPs associated with tolerance indices in both growing seasons, providing information about genetic regions with stable effects under different environmental conditions. This GWAS experiment serves as one of the few studies on association mapping for drought tolerance indices in wheat, which could increase the efficiency of rain-fed and irrigated crop production.
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