Genome-wide variation patterns between landraces and cultivars uncover divergent selection during modern wheat breeding.
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Key message Genetic diversity, population structure, LD decay, and selective sweeps in 687 wheat accessions were analyzed, providing relevant guidelines to facilitate the use of the germplasm in wheat breeding. Common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is one of the most widely grown crops in the world. Landraces were subjected to strong human-mediated selection in developing high-yielding, good quality, and widely adapted cultivars. To investigate the genome-wide patterns of allelic variation, population structure and patterns of selective sweeps during modern wheat breeding, we tested 687 wheat accessions, including landraces (148) and cultivars (539) mainly from China and Pakistan in a wheat 90 K single nucleotide polymorphism array. Population structure analysis revealed that cultivars and landraces from China and Pakistan comprised three relatively independent genetic clusters. Cultivars displayed lower nucleotide diversity and a wider average LD decay across whole genome, indicating allelic erosion and a diversity bottleneck due to the modern breeding. Analysis of genetic differentiation between landraces and cultivars from China and Pakistan identified allelic variants subjected to selection during modern breeding. In total, 477 unique genome regions showed signatures of selection, where 109 were identified in both China and Pakistan germplasm. The majority of genomic regions were located in the B genome (225), followed by the A genome (175), and only 77 regions were located in the D genome. EigenGWAS was further used to identify key selection loci in modern wheat cultivars from China and Pakistan by comparing with global winter wheat and spring wheat diversity panels, respectively. A few known functional genes or loci found within these genome regions corresponded to known phenotypes for disease resistance, vernalization, quality, adaptability and yield-related traits. This study uncovered molecular footprints of modern wheat breeding and explained the genetic basis of polygenic adaptation in wheat. The results will be useful for understanding targets of modern wheat breeding, and in devising future breeding strategies to target beneficial alleles currently not pursued.
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