Genetic variation and heritability of grain protein deviation in European wheat genotypes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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There is a well-established negative relationship between the yield and the concentration of protein in the mature wheat grain. However, some wheat genotypes consistently deviate from this relationship, a phenomenon known as Grain Protein Deviation (GPD). Positive GPD is therefore of considerable interest in relation to reducing the requirement for nitrogen fertilization for producing wheat for breadmaking. We have carried out two sets of field experiments on multiple sites in South East England. The first set comprised 11 field trials of 6 cultivars grown over three years (2008–2011) and the second comprised 9 field trials of 40 genotypes grown over two years (2015–2017) and 5 field trials of 30 genotypes grown in a single year (2017–2018). All trials comprised three replicate randomized plots of each genotype and nutrient regime. These studies showed strong genetic variation in GPD, which also differed in stability between genotypes, with cultivars bred in the UK generally having higher GPD and higher stability than those bred in other European countries. The heritability of GPD was estimated as 0.44, based on data from the field trials of 30 and 40 genotypes. The largest component contributing to the genetic variance was genotype (0.30), with a smaller contribution of the interaction between genotype and year/site (0.11) and a small (but statistically significant) contribution of nitrogen level. These studies suggest that selection for GPD is a viable target for breeders.