Physiological Traits and Quantitative Trait Loci Associated with Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Soft Red Winter Wheat
Brasier, Kyle Geoffrey
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Development of winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cultivars capable of more efficient uptake and utilization of applied nitrogen (N) has the potential to increase grower profitability and reduce negative environmental consequences associated with N lost from the plant-soil system. The first study sought to evaluate genotypic variation for N use efficiency (NUE) and identify lines consistently expressing high or low NUE under two or more N rates in a total of 51 N-environments. The results indicated that significant genotype by N rate interactions were frequently observed when trials utilized at least three N rates and identified wheat lines with high and stable yield potential that varied in performance under low N conditions. In addition, NUE was associated with above-ground biomass at physiological maturity were found to be both highly heritable across multiple N supplies. In the second study, two bi-parental mapping populations having a common low ('Yorktown') and two high (VA05W-151 and VA09W-52) NUE parents were characterized to dissect the genetics underlying N response. The populations were evaluated in eight N-environments and genotyped using single-nucleotide polymorphism data derived from a genotyping-by-sequencing protocol to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) associated with high NUE. Six QTL for NUE were identified on chromosomes 1D, 2D, 4A, 6A, 7A, and 7D that were associated with N use efficiency. The QTL on 2D and 4A co-localized with known loci governing photoperiod sensitivity and resistance to Fusarium head blight (caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium graminearum Schwabe), respectively. Three of the identified QTL (6A, 7A, and 7D) were associated with NUE in previous investigations, while the QTL on 1D was novel. The final experiment employed a small panel of soft red winter wheat lines to study the effects of photoperiod alleles on chromosome 1D (Ppd-D1) on yield-related traits under three or five N rates that were variably split over two growth stages in eight environments. The results validated the effect of a photoperiod sensitive allele (Ppd-D1b) that was associated with increased grain yield across N rates in half of the Virginia testing environments and under low N rates in all Ohio testing sites at the expense of grain N content. Yield advantages conferred by the Ppd-D1b allele were attributable to increased floret fertility and kernel number per spike. The findings from these studies have direct application for winter wheat breeding programs targeting NUE improvements.
General Audience Abstract
Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) products account for a significant percentage of the total dietary calories and protein consumed globally. To meet production demands, wheat requires efficient nitrogen (N) management to ensure continued grower profitability and to reduce negative environmental impacts of N lost from agricultural systems. This dissertation sought to evaluate variation among wheat lines for N use efficiency (NUE), assess the performance of wheat lines under multiple N supplies, validate traits that are associated with NUE, investigate the role of photoperiod sensitivity genes on N response, and identify regions of the wheat genome associated with high N use efficiency. These studies were conducted using panels of winter wheat lines grown under two or more N conditions over a combined 32 location-years. Results of Chapter I identified variation in cultivar response to N rates was more frequently observed when a greater number of N rates were used in trials of wheat N response. The first chapter also identified variation among wheat lines for NUE and identified lines that consistently produce high grain yields over N-location-years. In addition, above-ground biomass at physiological maturity was found to be strongly associated with grain yield under all N rates and was highly heritable in both studies. Chapter II utilized a combination of genetic and observable trait data to perform genetic analysis in two bi-parental populations grown in eight Nlocation-years. The study identified reproducible and significant genetic markers associated with NUE for application in wheat breeding programs. Upon analysis of photoperiod sensitive versus insensitive wheat lines in Chapter III, photoperiod sensitive wheat lines had a significant yield advantage under N-limited conditions in Ohio and across N treatments in half of the Virginia testing location-years. This resulted from an increased number of kernels per spike and fertile florets in photoperiod sensitive wheat lines. Results from this dissertation suggest that active breeding and selection for N response may be achieved through the employment of high NUE genes and the continued identification of adapted high NUE wheat parental lines.
- Doctoral Dissertations