Table_1_A Genome-Wide Association Study of Highly Heritable Agronomic Traits in Durum Wheat.XLSX

Uncovering the genetic basis of key agronomic traits, and particularly of drought tolerance, addresses an important priority for durum wheat improvement. Here, a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in 493 durum wheat accessions representing a worldwide collection was employed to address the genetic basis of 17 agronomically important traits and a drought wilting score. Using a linear mixed model with 4 inferred subpopulations and a kinship matrix, we identified 90 marker-trait-associations (MTAs) defined by 78 markers. These markers could be merged into 44 genomic loci by linkage disequilibrium (r2 > 0.2). Based on sequence alignment of the markers to the reference genome of bread wheat, we identified 14 putative candidate genes involved in enzymes, hormone-response, and transcription factors. The GWAS in durum wheat and a previous quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis in bread wheat identified a consensus QTL locus.4B.1 conferring drought tolerance, which was further scanned for the presence of potential candidate genes. A haplotype analysis of this region revealed that two minor haplotypes were associated with both drought tolerance and reduced plant stature, thought to be the effect of linkage with the semi-dwarfing gene Rht-B1. Haplotype variants in the key chromosome 4B region were informative regarding evolutionary divergence among durum, emmer and bread wheat. Over all, the data are relevant in the context of durum wheat improvement and the isolation of genes underlying variation in some important quantitative traits.