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Genetic control of crown rot of wheat: applying genetic studies to breeding programs

Philip Davies: University of Sydney

<div>Crown rot of wheat caused by <em>Fusarium pseudograminearum </em>is a major threat to grain production in Australia and other semi-arid grain growing regions of the world. While resistance to crown rot is available, its control is quantitative in nature, and conveys only partial resistance to this disease. In order to improve the resistance available in elite wheat germplasm, a pre-breeding program was established to pyramid multiple resistance alleles. To aid in this process, a genome wide association study was conducted on results from five resistance trials conducted over three years, using 90K SNP genotypic data. This study identified nine chromosomal regions associated with resistance to crown rot, of which eight corresponded with previously published reports of resistance QTL. This allowed parental selection based on the presence of complementary sets of alleles for resistance, rather than phenotype alone, significantly improving the efficiency of pyramiding. While this research was not aimed at identifying new alleles for crown rot resistance, it is an example of deploying genetic studies within breeding programs to improve the development of enhanced germplasm.</div>