Genes on Chromosome 4B from Different Parents Affect Wheat Growth and Yield

Jenn Hoskins
25th May, 2024

Genes on Chromosome 4B from Different Parents Affect Wheat Growth and Yield

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers at Minzu University of China identified a key genetic locus on chromosome 4B that affects multiple wheat traits
  • The allele from Qingxinmai increases tiller numbers, while the allele from line 041133 enhances spike and grain traits
  • This discovery can help wheat breeders improve yield and quality by selecting for specific alleles at this locus
Wheat (Triticum aestivum) is one of the most essential crops globally, providing a significant portion of the daily caloric intake for millions of people. Enhancing its yield and quality is a primary goal in agricultural research. A recent study conducted by Minzu University of China has identified a locus on chromosome 4B, named QTn/Ptn/Sl/Sns/Al/Tgw/Gl/Gw.caas-4B, which exhibits pleiotropic effects on various agronomic traits, including tiller, spike, and grain characteristics[1]. This discovery could have substantial implications for wheat breeding programs aimed at improving yield and quality. Pleiotropy refers to a single gene influencing multiple phenotypic traits. In this study, the researchers used a recombinant inbred line (RIL) population derived from a cross between Qingxinmai and line 041133 to detect the pleiotropic effects of the locus on chromosome 4B. They found that the allele from Qingxinmai increased tiller numbers, while the allele from line 041133 enhanced spike and grain traits. This finding is significant because it suggests that selecting for specific alleles at this locus could simultaneously improve multiple desirable traits in wheat. The study also identified another 52 quantitative trait loci (QTL) for eight different traits across 18 chromosomes, excluding chromosomes 5D, 6D, and 7B. This broad identification of QTLs provides a comprehensive genetic map that can be used to guide future wheat breeding efforts. Previous research has highlighted the importance of identifying QTLs and functional genes for improving wheat yield. For instance, a study identified 45 QTLs for thousand grain weight (TGW) in wheat, explaining a range of phenotypic variation and providing valuable insights for marker-assisted selection[2]. Another study focused on a major QTL, QTKW.caas-4BS, which was associated with increased grain weight and a semi-dwarf phenotype, beneficial for improving grain yield without compromising plant stability[3]. These earlier findings align well with the current study's objectives, further emphasizing the importance of genetic loci in wheat breeding. The researchers at Minzu University of China went a step further by developing a Kompetitive Allele Specific PCR (KASP) marker specific for the locus on chromosome 4B. This marker is a valuable tool for molecular marker-assisted selection, allowing breeders to efficiently select for the desired traits associated with this locus. Marker-assisted selection is a method that uses molecular markers to select plants with desirable traits, speeding up the breeding process and increasing the accuracy of selecting beneficial genetic variations. The study also conducted differential gene expression analysis in crown and inflorescence samples between Qingxinmai and line 041133. This analysis revealed several genes within the genomic interval of the locus on chromosome 4B that were differentially expressed, providing further insights into the genetic mechanisms underlying the pleiotropic effects observed. Understanding these mechanisms is crucial for developing targeted breeding strategies. Interestingly, the findings from this study resonate with other research that has explored genetic modifications to improve wheat yield. For example, a study discovered that the absence of Rht-B1 and ZnF-B genes through a natural deletion led to semi-dwarf plants with improved grain yield by up to 15.2% in field trials[4]. This demonstrates the potential of genetic deletions or modifications in enhancing wheat traits, similar to the pleiotropic effects observed in the current study. In summary, the identification of the pleiotropic locus on chromosome 4B by Minzu University of China provides a valuable genetic target for improving multiple agronomic traits in wheat. By leveraging this locus and the associated KASP marker, wheat breeders can more effectively select for desirable traits, ultimately enhancing wheat yield and quality. This study, along with prior research on QTLs and genetic modifications, underscores the importance of genetic approaches in advancing wheat breeding and meeting the growing demand for this vital crop.

AgricultureGeneticsPlant Science


Main Study

1) Alleles on locus chromosome 4B from different parents confer tiller number and the yield-associated traits in wheat

Published 24th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Major Genomic Regions for Wheat Grain Weight as Revealed by QTL Linkage Mapping and Meta-Analysis.

3) Genetic dissection of a major QTL for kernel weight spanning the Rht-B1 locus in bread wheat.

4) Reducing brassinosteroid signalling enhances grain yield in semi-dwarf wheat.

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