Identification of alleles towards the selection for improved seedling vigour is a key objective of many wheat breeding programmes. A multiparent advanced generation intercross (MAGIC) population developed from four commercial spring wheat cultivars (cvv. Baxter, Chara, Westonia and Yitpi) and containing ca. 1000 F(2) -derived, F(6:7) RILs was assessed at two contrasting soil temperatures (12 and 20 °C) for shoot length and coleoptile characteristics length and thickness. Narrow-sense heritabilities were high for coleoptile and shoot length (h(2) = 0.68-0.70), indicating a strong genetic basis for the differences among progeny. Genotypic variation was large, and distributions of genotype means were approximately Gaussian with evidence for transgressive segregation for all traits. A number of significant QTL were identified for all early growth traits, and these were commonly repeatable across the different soil temperatures. The largest negative effects on coleoptile lengths were associated with Rht-B1b (-8.2%) and Rht-D1b (-10.9%) dwarfing genes varying in the population. Reduction in coleoptile length with either gene was particularly large at the warmer soil temperature. Other large QTL for coleoptile length were identified on chromosomes 1A, 2B, 4A, 5A and 6B, but these were relatively smaller than allelic effects at the Rht-B1 and Rht-D1 loci. A large coleoptile length effect allele (a = 5.3 mm at 12 °C) was identified on chromosome 1AS despite the relatively shorter coleoptile length of the donor Yitpi. Strong, positive genetic correlations for coleoptile and shoot lengths (r(g) = 0.85-0.90) support the co-location of QTL for these traits and suggest a common physiological basis for both. The multiparent population has enabled the identification of promising shoot and coleoptile QTL despite the potential for the confounding of large effect dwarfing gene alleles present in the commercial parents. The incidence of these alleles in commercial wheat breeding programmes should facilitate their ready implementation in selection of varieties with improved establishment and early growth.
Keywords: MAGIC: Multiparent advanced generation intercross; WGAIM: whole genome average interval mapping; breeding; establishment; seedling vigour.
© 2013 Society for Experimental Biology, Association of Applied Biologists and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.