Identification of a major QTL and associated molecular marker for high arabinoxylan fibre in white wheat flour.

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Dietary fibre (DF) has multiple health benefits and wheat grains are major sources of DF for human health. However, DF is depleted in white wheat flour which is more widely consumed than wholegrain. The major DF component in white flour is the cell wall polysaccharide arabinoxylan (AX). We have identified the Chinese wheat cultivar Yumai 34 as having unusually high contents of AX in both water-soluble and insoluble forms. We have therefore used populations generated from crosses between Yumai 34 and four other wheat cultivars, three with average contents of AX (Ukrainka, Altigo and Claire) and one also having unusually high AX (Valoris), in order to map QTLs for soluble AX (determined as relative viscosity of aqueous extracts of wholemeal flours) and total AX (determined by enzyme fingerprinting of white flour). A number of QTL were mapped, but most were only detected in one or two crosses. However, all four crosses showed strong QTLs for high RV/total AX on chromosome 1B, with Yumai 34 being the increasing parent, and a KASP marker for the Yumai 34 high AX allele was validated by analysis of high AX lines derived from Yumai 34 but selected by biochemical analysis. A QTL for RV was also mapped on chromosome 6B in Yumai 34 x Valoris, with Valoris being the increasing allele, which is consistent with the observation of transgressive segregation for this population. Association studies in an independent germplasm panel identified marker trait associations for relative viscosity in these same locations while direct selection for fibre content in breeding resulted in high levels of enrichment for the Yumai 34 1B allele. The data therefore indicate that marker-assisted breeding can be used to develop wheat with high AX fibre in white flour.