Multi-locus genome-wide association studies reveal the genetic architecture of Fusarium head blight resistance in durum wheat

Jemanesh K. Haile, Demissew Sertse, Amidou N’Diaye, Valentyna Klymiuk, Krystalee Wiebe, Yuefeng Ruan, Harmeet S. Chawla, Maria Antonia Henriquez, Lipu Wang, Hadley R. Kutcher, Barbara Steiner, Hermann Buerstmayr, Curtis J. Pozniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Durum wheat is more susceptible to Fusarium head blight (FHB) than other types or classes of wheat. The disease is one of the most devastating in wheat; it reduces yield and end-use quality and contaminates the grain with fungal mycotoxins such as deoxynivalenol (DON). A panel of 265 Canadian and European durum wheat cultivars, as well as breeding and experimental lines, were tested in artificially inoculated field environments (2019–2022, inclusive) and two greenhouse trials (2019 and 2020). The trials were assessed for FHB severity and incidence, visual rating index, Fusarium-damaged kernels, DON accumulation, anthesis or heading date, maturity date, and plant height. In addition, yellow pigment and protein content were analyzed for the 2020 field season. To capture loci underlying FHB resistance and related traits, GWAS was performed using single-locus and several multi-locus models, employing 13,504 SNPs. Thirty-one QTL significantly associated with one or more FHB-related traits were identified, of which nine were consistent across environments and associated with multiple FHB-related traits. Although many of the QTL were identified in regions previously reported to affect FHB, the QTL QFhb-3B.2, associated with FHB severity, incidence, and DON accumulation, appears to be novel. We developed KASP markers for six FHB-associated QTL that were consistently detected across multiple environments and validated them on the Global Durum Panel (GDP). Analysis of allelic diversity and the frequencies of these revealed that the lines in the GDP harbor between zero and six resistance alleles. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of the genetic basis of FHB resistance and DON accumulation in durum wheat. Accessions with multiple favorable alleles were identified and will be useful genetic resources to improve FHB resistance in durum breeding programs through marker-assisted recurrent selection and gene stacking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1182548
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Haile, Sertse, N’Diaye, Klymiuk, Wiebe, Ruan, Chawla, Henriquez, Wang, Kutcher, Steiner, Buerstmayr and Pozniak.


  • DON
  • durum wheat
  • FHB resistance
  • GDP
  • GWAS
  • KASP markers
  • multi-locus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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