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J Exp Bot. 2017 Jul 10;68(15):4089-4101. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx214.

The roles of pleiotropy and close linkage as revealed by association mapping of yield and correlated traits of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.).

Author information

Department of Breeding Research, Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Gatersleben, Germany.
TraitGenetics GmbH, Gatersleben, Germany.
KWS LOCHOW GmbH, Bergen, Germany.
Syngenta France S.A.S., Orgerus, France.
Syngenta Seeds GmbH, Bad Salzuflen, Germany.


Grain yield (GY) of bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is quantitatively inherited. Correlated GY-syndrome traits such as plant height (PH), heading date (HD), thousand grain weight (TGW), test weight (TW), grains per ear (GPE), and ear weight (EW) influence GY. Most quantitative genetics studies assessed the multiple-trait (MT) complex of GY-syndrome using single-trait approaches, and little is known about its underlying pleiotropic architecture. We investigated the pleiotropic architecture of wheat GY-syndrome through MT association mapping (MT-GWAS) using 372 varieties phenotyped in up to eight environments and genotyped with 18 832 single nucleotide polymorphisms plus 24 polymorphic functional markers. MT-GWAS revealed a total of 345 significant markers spread genome wide, representing 8, 40, 11, 40, 34, and 35 effective GY-PH, GY-HD, GY-TGW, GY-TW, GY-GPE, and GY-EW associations, respectively. Among them, pleiotropic roles of Rht-B1 and TaGW2-6B loci were corroborated. Only one marker presented simultaneous associations for three traits (i.e. GY-TGW-TW). Close linkage was difficult to differentiate from pleiotropy; thus, the pleiotropic architecture of GY-syndrome was dissected more as a cause of pleiotropy rather than close linkage. Simulations showed that minor allele frequencies, along with sizes and distances between quantitative trait loci for two traits, influenced the ability to distinguish close linkage from pleiotropy.


Association; correlation; linkage; multivariate; pleiotropy; simulation; wheat; yield

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