High Resolution Genome Wide Association Studies Reveal Rich Genetic Architectures of Grain Zinc and Iron in Common Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)
Biofortification is a sustainable strategy to alleviate micronutrient deficiency in humans. It is necessary to improve grain zinc (GZnC) and iron concentrations (GFeC) in wheat based on genetic knowledge. However, the precise dissection of the genetic architecture underlying GZnC and GFeC remains challenging. In this study, high-resolution genome-wide association studies were conducted for GZnC and GFeC by three different models using 166 wheat cultivars and 373,106 polymorphic markers from the wheat 660K and 90K single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. Totally, 25 and 16 stable loci were detected for GZnC and GFeC, respectively. Among them, 17 loci for GZnC and 8 for GFeC are likely to be new quantitative trait locus/loci (QTL). Based on gene annotations and expression profiles, 28 promising candidate genes were identified for Zn/Fe uptake (8), transport (11), storage (3), and regulations (6). Of them, 11 genes were putative wheat orthologs of known Arabidopsis and rice genes related to Zn/Fe homeostasis. A brief model, such as genes related to Zn/Fe homeostasis from root uptake, xylem transport to the final seed storage was proposed in wheat. Kompetitive allele-specific PCR (KASP) markers were successfully developed for two major QTL of GZnC on chromosome arms 3AL and 7AL, respectively, which were independent of thousand kernel weight and plant height. The 3AL QTL was further validated in a bi-parental population under multi-environments. A wheat multidrug and toxic compound extrusion (MATE) transporter TraesCS3A01G499300, the ortholog of rice gene OsPEZ2, was identified as a potential candidate gene. This study has advanced our knowledge of the genetic basis underlying GZnC and GFeC in wheat and provides valuable markers and candidate genes for wheat biofortification.