Genome wide association in Spanish bread wheat landraces identifies six key genomic regions that constitute potential targets for improving grain yield related traits.

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Association mapping conducted in 189 Spanish bread wheat landraces revealed six key genomic regions that constitute stable QTLs for yield and include 15 candidate genes. Genetically diverse landraces provide an ideal population to conduct association analysis. In this study, association mapping was conducted in a collection of 189 Spanish bread wheat landraces whose genomic diversity had been previously assessed. These genomic data were combined with characterization for yield-related traits, including grain size and shape, and phenological traits screened across five seasons. The association analysis revealed a total of 881 significant marker trait associations, involving 434 markers across the genome, that could be grouped in 366 QTLs based on linkage disequilibrium. After accounting for days to heading, we defined 33 high density QTL genomic regions associated to at least four traits. Considering the importance of detecting stable QTLs, 6 regions associated to several grain traits and thousand kernel weight in at least three environments were selected as the most promising ones to harbour targets for breeding. To dissect the genetic cause of the observed associations, we studied the function and in silico expression of the 413 genes located inside these six regions. This identified 15 candidate genes that provide a starting point for future analysis aimed at the identification and validation of wheat yield related genes.