Ancestral QTL alleles from wild emmer wheat improve grain yield, biomass and photosynthesis across enviroinments in modern wheat

Lianne Merchuk-Ovnat, Tzion Fahima, Tamar Krugman, Yehoshua Saranga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wild emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides) is considered a promising source for improving drought resistance in domesticated wheat. Nevertheless, wild germplasm has not been widely used in wheat breeding for abiotic stress resilience. In the current study, a near isogenic line NIL-7A-B-2, introgressed with a drought-related QTL from wild emmer wheat on chromosome 7A, and its recurrent parent, bread wheat cv. BarNir, were investigated under four environments across 2 years—water-limited and well-watered conditions in a rain-protected screen-house (Year 1) and two commercial open field plots under ample precipitation (Year 2). NIL-7A-B-2 exhibited an advantage over BarNir in grain yield and biomass production under most environments. Further physiological analyses suggested that enhanced photosynthetic capacity and photochemistry combined with higher flag leaf area are among the factors underlying the improved productivity of NIL-7A-B-2. These were coupled with improved sink capacity in NIL-7A-B-2, manifested by greater yield components than its parental line. This study provides further support for our previous findings that introgression of wild emmer QTL alleles, using marker assisted selection, can enhance grain yield and biomass production across environments in domesticated wheat, thereby enriching the modern gene pool with essential diversity for the improvement of yield and drought resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Science
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by The Israel Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development , Chief Scientist Foundation (grant nos. 837-0079-10 , 837-0162-14 ). L. M.-O. is indebted to the R.H. Smith Foundation for a doctoral fellowship award. We thank Uzi Naftalyahu, Idan Richker and Zeev Haker for assistance in the Be'eri field trials, Zeev Ovnat for developing the image analysis software, and David Bonfil for grain protein measurements. We also thank Vered Barak, Shiran Ben-Zeev, Jajaw Bimro, Libat Green, Noya Ruth Itzhak, Nir Krintza, Ronen Livni, Zlil Shatz and Yannai Zausmer for their excellent assistance in the field and in the laboratory. YS is the incumbent of the Haim Gvati Chair in Agriculture.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd


  • Grain yield
  • Leaf gas exchange
  • Near-isogenic line
  • Quantitative trait locus
  • Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides
  • Water stress
  • Water-use efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science


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