Genetic dissection of grain zinc concentration in spring wheat for mainstreaming biofortification in CIMMYT wheat breeding.
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Wheat is an important staple that acts as a primary source of dietary energy, protein, and essential micronutrients such as iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) for the world's population. Approximately two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, thus breeders have crossed high Zn progenitors such as synthetic hexaploid wheat, T. dicoccum, T. spelta, and landraces to generate wheat varieties with competitive yield and enhanced grain Zn that are being adopted by farmers in South Asia. Here we report a genome-wide association study (GWAS) using the wheat Illumina iSelect 90 K Infinitum SNP array to characterize grain Zn concentrations in 330 bread wheat lines. Grain Zn phenotype of this HarvestPlus Association Mapping (HPAM) panel was evaluated across a range of environments in India and Mexico. GWAS analysis revealed 39 marker-trait associations for grain Zn. Two larger effect QTL regions were found on chromosomes 2 and 7. Candidate genes (among them zinc finger motif of transcription-factors and metal-ion binding genes) were associated with the QTL. The linked markers and associated candidate genes identified in this study are being validated in new biparental mapping populations for marker-assisted breeding.
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