Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 131, Issue 3, pp 685–701 | Cite as

Advantages and limitations of multiple-trait genomic prediction for Fusarium head blight severity in hybrid wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

  • Albert W. Schulthess
  • Yusheng Zhao
  • C. Friedrich H. Longin
  • Jochen C. Reif
Original Article


Key message

Predictabilities for wheat hybrids less related to the estimation set were improved by shifting from single- to multiple-trait genomic prediction of Fusarium head blight severity.


Breeding for improved Fusarium head blight resistance (FHBr) of wheat is a very laborious and expensive task. FHBr complexity is mainly due to its highly polygenic nature and because FHB severity (FHBs) is greatly influenced by the environment. Associated traits plant height and heading date may provide additional information related to FHBr, but this is ignored in single-trait genomic prediction (STGP). The aim of our study was to explore the benefits in predictabilities of multiple-trait genomic prediction (MTGP) over STGP of target trait FHBs in a population of 1604 wheat hybrids using information on 17,372 single nucleotide polymorphism markers along with indicator traits plant height and heading date. The additive inheritance of FHBs allowed accurate hybrid performance predictions using information on general combining abilities or average performance of both parents without the need of markers. Information on molecular markers and indicator trait(s) improved FHBs predictabilities for hybrids less related to the estimation set. Indicator traits must be observed on the predicted individuals to benefit from MTGP. Magnitudes of genetic and phenotypic correlations along with improvements in predictabilities made plant height a better indicator trait for FHBs than heading date. Thus, MTGP having only plant height as indicator trait already maximized FHBs predictabilities. Provided a good indicator trait was available, MTGP could reduce the impacts of genotype environment \(\times\) interaction on STGP for hybrids less related to the estimation set.



Best linear unbiased estimation(s)


Best linear unbiased prediction(s)


Fusarium head blight (resistance/severity)


General combining ability


Genomic prediction


Genome-wide association mapping studies


Multiple trait


Quantitative trait loci


Specific combining ability


Single nucleotide polymorphism


Single trait



This research work was conducted within the scope of the HYWHEAT project funded by BMBF (Grant no. FKZ031–5945D).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical statement

All experiments were performed under the current laws of Germany.

Supplementary material

122_2017_3029_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (452 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 453 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert W. Schulthess
    • 1
  • Yusheng Zhao
    • 1
  • C. Friedrich H. Longin
    • 2
  • Jochen C. Reif
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Breeding ResearchLeibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK)GaterslebenGermany
  2. 2.State Plant Breeding InstituteUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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