BACKGROUND: Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most important cereal food crops for the global population. Spike-layer uniformity (the consistency of the spike distribution in the vertical space)-related traits (SLURTs) are quantitative and have been shown to directly affect yield potential by modifying the plant architecture. Therefore, these parameters are important breeding targets for wheat improvement. The present study is the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) targeting SLURTs in wheat. In this study, a set of 225 diverse spring wheat accessions were used for multi-locus GWAS to evaluate SLURTs, including the number of spikes per plant (NSPP), spike length (SL), number of spikelets per spike (NSPS), grain weight per spike (GWPS), lowest tiller height (LTH), spike-layer thickness (SLT), spike-layer number (SLN) and spike-layer uniformity (SLU).
RESULTS: In total, 136 significant marker trait associations (MTAs) were identified when the analysis was both performed individually and combined for two environments. Twenty-nine MTAs were detected in environment one, 48 MTAs were discovered in environment two and 59 MTAs were detected using combined data from the two environments. Altogether, 15 significant MTAs were found for five traits in one of the two environments, and four significant MTAs were detected for the two traits, LTH and SLU, in both environments i.e. E1, E2 and also in combined data from the two environments. In total, 279 candidate genes (CGs) were identified, including Chaperone DnaJ, ABC transporter-like, AP2/ERF, SWEET sugar transporter, as well as genes that have previously been associated with wheat spike development, seed development and grain yield.
CONCLUSIONS: The MTAs detected through multi-locus GWAS will be useful for improving SLURTs and thus yield in wheat production through marker-assisted and genomic selection.
- Candidate genes
- Multi-locus GWAS
- Spike-layer uniformity
- Triticum aestivum L., Molecular marker