Genome-Wide Association Mapping of Grain Micronutrients Concentration in Aegilops tauschii.
Bread wheat is an important and the most consumed cereal worldwide. However, people with predominantly cereal-based diets are increasingly affected by micronutrient deficiencies, suggesting the need for biofortified wheat varieties. The limited genetic diversity in hexaploid wheat warrants exploring the wider variation present in wheat wild relatives, among these Aegilops tauschii, the wild progenitor of the bread wheat D genome. In this study, a panel of 167 Ae. tauschii accessions was phenotyped for grain Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn concentrations for 3 years and was found to have wide variation for these micronutrients. Comparisons between the two genetic subpopulations of Ae. tauschii revealed that lineage 2 had higher mean values for Fe and Cu concentration than lineage 1. To identify potentially new genetic sources for improving grain micronutrient concentration, we performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on 114 non-redundant Ae. tauschii accessions using 5,249 genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) markers. Best linear unbiased predictor (BLUP) values were calculated for all traits across the three growing seasons. A total of 19 SNP marker trait associations (MTAs) were detected for all traits after applying Bonferroni corrected threshold of -log10(P-value) = 4.68. These MTAs were found on all seven chromosomes. For grain Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn concentrations, five, four, three, and seven significant associations were detected, respectively. The associations were linked to the genes encoding transcription factor regulators, transporters, and phytosiderophore synthesis. The results demonstrate the utility of GWAS for understanding the genetic architecture of micronutrient accumulation in Ae. tauschii, and further efforts to validate these loci will aid in using them to diversify the D-genome of hexaploid wheat.