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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 24;12(4):e0176148. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0176148. eCollection 2017.

Three dominant awnless genes in common wheat: Fine mapping, interaction and contribution to diversity in awn shape and length.

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Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan.
Departamento de Biotecnología, Facultad de Ciencias Químicas, Universidad Nacional de Asunción, San Lorenzo, Paraguay.
Graduate School of Science, Technology and Innovation, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan.
Biotechnology & Afforestation Laboratory, New Business Planning Division, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, Miyoshi, Aichi, Japan.
Frontier Research Planning Department, Frontier Research Center, TOYOTA Motor Corporation, Toyota, Aichi, Japan.
Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


The awn is a long needle-like structure formed at the tip of the lemma in the florets of some grass species. It plays a role in seed dispersal and protection against animals, and can contribute to the photosynthetic activity of spikes. Three main dominant inhibitors of awn development (Hd, B1 and B2) are known in hexaploid wheat, but the causal genes have not been cloned yet and a genetic association with awn length diversity has been found only for the B1 allele. To analyze the prevalence of these three awning inhibitors, we attempted to predict the genotypes of 189 hexaploid wheat varieties collected worldwide using markers tightly linked to these loci. Using recombinant inbred lines derived from two common wheat cultivars, Chinese Spring and Mironovskaya 808, both with short awns, and a high-density linkage map, we performed quantitative trait locus analysis to identify tightly linked markers. Because this linkage map was constructed with abundant array-based markers, we converted the linked markers to PCR-based markers and determined the genotypes of 189 hexaploids. A significant genotype-phenotype correlation was observed at the Hd and B1 regions. We also found that interaction among these three awning inhibitors is involved in development of a membranous outgrowth at the base of awn resembling the Hooded mutants of barley. For the hooded awn phenotype, presence of the Hd dominant allele was essential but not sufficient, so B2 and other factors appear to act epistatically to produce the ectopic tissue. On the other hand, the dominant B1 allele acted as a suppressor of the hooded phenotype. These three awning inhibitors largely contribute to the genetic variation in awn length and shape of common wheat.

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