Genome wide association study of frost tolerance in wheat
Winter wheat growing areas in the Northern hemisphere are regularly exposed to heavy frost. Due to the negative impact on yield, the identification of genetic factors controlling frost tolerance (FroT) and development of tools for breeding is of prime importance. Here, we detected QTL associated with FroT by genome wide association studies (GWAS) using a diverse panel of 276 winter wheat genotypes that was phenotyped at five locations in Germany and Russia in three years. The panel was genotyped using the 90 K iSelect array and SNPs in FroT candidate genes. In total, 17,566 SNPs were used for GWAS resulting in the identification of 53 markers significantly associated (LOD ≥ 4) to FroT, corresponding to 23 QTL regions located on 11 chromosomes (1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 2D, 3A, 3D, 4A, 5A, 5B and 7D). The strongest QTL effect confirmed the importance of chromosome 5A for FroT. In addition, to our best knowledge, eight FroT QTLs were discovered for the first time in this study comprising one QTL on chromosomes 3A, 3D, 4A, 7D and two on chromosomes 1B and 2D. Identification of novel FroT candidate genes will help to better understand the FroT mechanism in wheat and to develop more effective combating strategies.