Analysis of historical selection in winter wheat

Chin Jian Yang, Olufunmilayo Ladejobi, Richard Mott, Wayne Powell, Ian Mackay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Key Message: Modeling of the distribution of allele frequency over year of variety release identifies major loci involved in historical breeding of winter wheat. Abstract: Winter wheat is a major crop with a rich selection history in the modern era of crop breeding. Genetic gains across economically important traits like yield have been well characterized and are the major force driving its production. Winter wheat is also an excellent model for analyzing historical genetic selection. As a proof of concept, we analyze two major collections of winter wheat varieties that were bred in Western Europe from 1916 to 2010, namely the Triticeae Genome (TG) and WAGTAIL panels, which include 333 and 403 varieties, respectively. We develop and apply a selection mapping approach, Regression of Alleles on Years (RALLY), in these panels, as well as in simulated populations. RALLY maps loci under sustained historical selection by using a simple logistic model to regress allele counts on years of variety release. To control for drift-induced allele frequency change, we develop a hybrid approach of genomic control and delta control. Within the TG panel, we identify 22 significant RALLY quantitative selection loci (QSLs) and estimate the local heritabilities for 12 traits across these QSLs. By correlating predicted marker effects with RALLY regression estimates, we show that alleles whose frequencies have increased over time are heavily biased toward conferring positive yield effect, but negative effects in flowering time, lodging, plant height and grain protein content. Altogether, our results (1) demonstrate the use of RALLY to identify selected genomic regions while controlling for drift, and (2) reveal key patterns in the historical selection in winter wheat and guide its future breeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3005-3023
Number of pages19
JournalTheoretical and Applied Genetics
Issue number9
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPrint publication - Sept 2022


  • Alleles
  • Grain Proteins
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Breeding
  • Triticum/genetics


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