Genetic analyses and association mapping were performed on a winter wheat core collection of 96 accessions sampled from a variety of geographic origins. Twenty-four agronomic traits were evaluated over 3 years under fully irrigated, rainfed and drought treatments. Grain yield was the most sensitive trait to water deficit and was highly correlated with above-ground biomass per plant and number of kernels per m(2). The germplasm was structured into four subpopulations. The association of 46 SSR loci distributed throughout the wheat genome with yield and agronomic traits was analyzed using a general linear model, where subpopulation information was used to control false-positive or spurious marker-trait associations (MTAs). A total of 26, 21 and 29 significant (P < 0.001) MTAs were identified in irrigated, rainfed and drought treatments, respectively. The marker effects ranged from 14.0 to 50.8%. Combined across all treatments, 34 significant (P < 0.001) MTAs were identified with nine markers, and R(2) ranged from 14.5 to 50.2%. Marker psp3200 (6DS) and particularly gwm484 (2DS) were associated with many significant MTAs in each treatment and explained the greatest proportion of phenotypic variation. Although we were not able to recognize any marker related to grain yield under drought stress, a number of MTAs associated with developmental and agronomic traits highly correlated with grain yield under drought were identified.
Keywords: agronomic traits; association mapping; drought; population structure; wheat.