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Theor Appl Genet. 2013 Mar;126(3):805-22. doi: 10.1007/s00122-012-2019-z. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Genomic regions associated with the nitrogen limitation response revealed in a global wheat core collection.

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INRA, UMR 1095 Génétique, Diversité Et Ecophysiologie Des Céréales, 234 Avenue Du Brézet, 63100, Clermont-Ferrand, France.


Modern wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) varieties in Western Europe have mainly been bred, and selected in conditions where high levels of nitrogen-rich fertilizer are applied. However, high input crop management has greatly increased the risk of nitrates leaching into groundwater with negative impacts on the environment. To investigate wheat nitrogen tolerance characteristics that could be adapted to low input crop management, we supplied 196 accessions of a wheat core collection of old and modern cultivars with high or moderate amounts of nitrogen fertilizer in an experimental network consisting of three sites and 2 years. The main breeding traits were assessed including grain yield and grain protein content. The response to nitrogen level was estimated for grain yield and grain number per m(2) using both the difference and the ratio between performance at the two input levels and the slope of joint regression. A large variability was observed for all the traits studied and the response to nitrogen level. Whole genome association mapping was carried out using 899 molecular markers taking into account the five ancestral group structure of the collection. We identified 54 main regions involving almost all chromosomes that influence yield and its components, plant height, heading date and grain protein concentration. Twenty-three regions, including several genes, spread over 16 chromosomes were involved in the response to nitrogen level. These chromosomal regions may be good candidates to be used in breeding programs to improve the performance of wheat varieties at moderate nitrogen input levels.

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