Genetic Mapping of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) Associated with Seminal Root Angle and Number in Three Populations of Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with Common Parents


Drought tolerance of plants is related to their root system architecture. The architecture of a mature plant root system is closely linked to seminal root growth at the seedling stage; hence, selection for root characteristics at the seedling stage may identify genotypes better suited for drought conditions. Here, the genetics of seminal root angle and number were investigated in three doubled haploid mapping populations of wheat. All populations showed significant phenotypic variation for both traits and each demonstrated transgressive segregation. In total, 34 genomic regions were associated with seminal root traits; however, most QTLs were variable from year to year and were population specific. Considering only the results consistent across both years of experiments, five QTLs for seminal root angle were identified on chromosomes 2DS, 5BS, 6AL, 7A, and 7BS, but only the 2DS QTL appeared in two of the three populations. For the seminal root number, one QTL was identified on 4BL. Correlation analyses for seminal root angle, number, and seed weight revealed interesting relationships to consider for future research. In one population, those interactions wrongfully identified QTLs for seed weight as QTLs for seminal root traits. Our findings demonstrate that seminal root angle and number are complex traits and despite high heritability, may be more difficult to unwind than previously proposed.

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The authors are grateful to Dr. Adam J. Lukaszewski, University of California, Riverside, for his support in making this research possible as well as discussions and critical edits during manuscript preparation.


This work was supported in part by funds provided to AJL from USDA—NIFA #CA-R-BPS-5411-H, by the University of California, Riverside Botanic Gardens, The California Agricultural Experiment Station, and a doctoral fellowship of Turkish Republic Ministry of National Education to Harun Bektas.

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CH and HB designed and performed the experiments, analyzed data, and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Harun Bektas.

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Key Message

• Three bi-parental mapping populations with common parents were used to verify QTL related to root architecture across genetic backgrounds resulting in the validation of one QTL within two of the three populations.

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Figure S1

QTL for seminal root angle (RA), root numbers (RN) and seed weight (SW) in the SC population detected with IciMapping software using the composite interval mapping method with a step of 1cM was used and the threshold for QTL detection was determined using 1000 permutations where α = 0.05. (BMP 33577 kb)

Figure S2

QTL for seminal root angle (RA), root numbers (RN) and seed weight (SW) on the SF population detected with IciMapping software using the composite interval mapping method with a step of 1cM was used and the threshold for QTL detection was determined using 1000 permutations where α = 0.05. (BMP 17168 kb)

Figure S3

QTL for seminal root angle (RA), root numbers (RN) and seed weight (SW) on the CF population detected with IciMapping software using the composite interval mapping method with a step of 1cM was used and the threshold for QTL detection was determined using 1000 permutations where α = 0.05. (BMP 31422 kb)

Figure S4

QTL for seminal root number on chromosome arm 4BL in the SF population detected with IciMapping software using the composite interval mapping method with a step of 1cM was used and the threshold for QTL detection was determined using 1000 permutations where α = 0.05. (BMP 3428 kb)


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Hohn, C.E., Bektas, H. Genetic Mapping of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) Associated with Seminal Root Angle and Number in Three Populations of Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) with Common Parents. Plant Mol Biol Rep 38, 572–585 (2020).

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  • Root growth angle
  • Seminal roots
  • QTL mapping
  • Seed weight
  • Seminal root number