Pronounced anther extrusion (AE) is associated with field resistance to Fusarium head blight (FHB), one of the most devastating diseases of wheat globally. In this study, two recombinant inbred line (RIL) populations were used to map quantitative trait loci (QTL) for AE and field FHB resistance and to investigate the association of both traits at the genetic level. Furthermore, two panels of International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) wheat breeding lines were evaluated to describe the phenotypic association between the two traits in detail. Highly significant negative correlation was identified between AE and FHB severity in the two populations and the two panels, with r
-values ranging from 0.55 to 0.74. QTL analysis in the two RIL populations identified 12 QTL for AE and nine for FHB resistance, of which five QTL located on chromosomes 3BL, 4BS, 4DS, 5AL, and 5BL were associated with both AE and FHB, collectively explaining over 50% of phenotypic variation for FHB. The QTL on chromosomes 4BS, 4DS, 5AL, and 5BL were closely linked to Rht-B1
, and Vrn-B1
genes, respectively. In conclusion, AE is closely related to field FHB resistance and could be used as a morphological marker in wheat breeding for field FHB resistance.
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