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Genome-level studies on late maturity alpha amylase and boron tolerance in wheat

Carter, Meredith Diane (2006) Genome-level studies on late maturity alpha amylase and boron tolerance in wheat. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Under certain environmental conditions, some varieties of wheat synthesize the enzyme alpha amylase late in grain ripening, even in the absence of rain or sprouting. The resulting grain has a sound appearance but can be unsuitable for end-product applications due to the presence of late maturity alpha amylase (LMA) activity. Reduction of LMA and the development of cultivars tolerant to boron toxic soils are high priority traits in the WA wheat breeding program and the use of molecular markers closely linked to these traits for marker assisted selection (MAS) is highly desirable. The aims of this study were to take a genomics approach to provide detailed structural information for the region on wheat chromosome 7BL in which quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for LMA and boron tolerance (Bo1) have been mapped. Once the structure had been determined, this then laid the foundation for further studies to investigate the function of putative candidate genes identified within this region. The research involved the use of bioinformatic tools and rice/wheat synteny to investigate the structure of this chromosome region, followed by the use of molecular probes to isolate genomic DNA clones (BAC clones) corresponding to this region.

A two-step bioinformatics strategy was used, involving (1) alignment of portions of the wheat and rice genomes, to identify rice genomic regions syntenic to wheat group 7L and (2) selection of candidate genes from those regions of the rice genome. The selected candidate genes included an anion transporter, as a candidate gene for boron tolerance, and GAMYB-like genes, as candidate genes for LMA. The GAMYB class of transcription factors identified were of particular interest because of published literature indicating its importance in controlling alpha-amylase levels in cereal grains. The key phenotype of interest in this thesis is LMA and different levels of expression of ±-amylase are a key feature of this phenotype.

Molecular markers and candidate genes were then used to screen two BAC libraries, one derived from the French cultivar, 'Renan' and the other derived from Aegilops tauschii (the source of the D genome of wheat). About 300 BAC clones corresponding to the chromosome region of interest were obtained. Of these, 8 BAC clones (6 chosen through hybridization to a GAMYB-like probe, and 2 from wheat ESTs anchored to the rice genome) were selected for sequencing, allowing for the development of new microsatellite and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers and for the discovery of novel transposable elements that provide a rich source of polymorphism for the development of additional markers. Novel microsatellite and SNP markers that were identified from the BAC clone sequence were mapped on the Cranbrook/Halberd doubled haploid (DH) mapping population. Markers were located to chromosomes 7AL, 7BL and 7DL. New markers derived from the BAC sequence information were used to anchor the BAC clones to the genetic map and develop a framework physical-genetic map. An automated annotation pipeline has been established and was used to annotate selected contigs of the sequenced BAC clones.

A new marker assisted selection strategy, termed Multiplex Trait Signature (MuTs) analysis, was developed and tested on 39 wheat cultivars of known LMA phenotype. MuTs provides a graphical genotype of individuals for a particular chromosomal region and is a convenient tool for interrogating genetic similarity in the individuals surveyed. Based on assays of 22 markers (12 spanning the LMA QTL on chromosome 7BL and 10 spanning the LMA QTL on chromosome 3BS) on these 39 wheat cultivars, it was found that the varieties can be grouped according to pedigree and provides a tool for interpreting LMA status for a variety. Validation of the 7BL LMA and boron tolerance (Bo1) QTL regions was achieved using a targeted mapping approach using the doubled haploid population Pastor/RAC891 using published molecular markers and markers developed in this thesis. The main outcome of this study is that the genomic organisation of this region on chromosome 7BL is complex, and that the identification of candidate genes in wheat controlling 1) tolerance of cultivars to boron toxic soils and 2) pathways regulating the expression of LMA, is likely to involve the interplay of a network of regulatory genes.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Supervisor(s): Jones, Michael and Appels, Rudi
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