Journal of Integrative Agriculture

Identification of QTL and underlying genes for root system architecture associated with nitrate nutrition in hexaploid wheat

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The root system architecture (RSA) of a crop has a profound effect on the uptake of nutrients and consequently the potential yield. However, little is known about the genetic basis of RSA and resource adaptive responses in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Here, a high-throughput germination paper-based plant phenotyping system was used to identify seedling traits in a wheat doubled haploid mapping population, Savannah×Rialto. Significant genotypic and nitrate-N treatment variation was found across the population for seedling traits with distinct trait grouping for root size-related traits and root distribution-related traits. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis identified a total of 59 seedling trait QTLs. Across two nitrate treatments, 27 root QTLs were specific to the nitrate treatment. Transcriptomic analyses for one of the QTLs on chromosome 2D, which was found under low nitrate conditions, revealed gene enrichment in N-related biological processes and 28 differentially expressed genes with possible involvement in a root angle response. Together, these findings provide genetic insight into root system architecture and plant adaptive responses to nitrate, as well as targets that could help improve N capture in wheat.