Wheat (Triticum aestivum
L.) breeding programs strive to increase grain yield; however, the progress is hampered due to its quantitative inheritance, low heritability, and confounding environmental effects. In the present study, a winter wheat population of 159 recombinant inbred lines (RILs) was evaluated in six trials under rainfed, terminal drought, and fully-irrigated conditions, over four years. Quantitative trait locus/loci (QTL) mapping was conducted for grain yield main effect (GY) and the genotype × environment interaction (GEI) effect. A total of 17 QTL were associated with GY and 13 QTL associated with GEI, and nine QTL were mapped in the flanking chromosomal regions for both GY and GEI. One major QTL Q.Gy.ui-1B.2
, explaining up to 22% of grain yield, was identified in all six trials. Besides the additive effect of QTL associated with GY, interactions among QTL (QTL × QTL interaction), QTL × environment, and QTL × QTL × environment were also observed. When combining the interaction effects, QTL Q.Gy.ui-1B.2
along with other QTL explained up to 52% of the variation in grain yield over the six trials. This study suggests that QTL mapping of complex traits such as grain yield should include interaction effects of QTL and environments in marker-assisted selection.
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