Genetic Contribution of Synthetic Hexaploid Wheat to CIMMYT’s Spring Bread Wheat Breeding Germplasm

Synthetic hexaploid (SH) wheat (AABBD’D’) is developed by artifcially generating a fertile hybrid between tetraploid durum wheat (Triticum turgidum, AABB) and diploid wild goat grass (Aegilops tauschii, D’D’). Over three decades, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has developed and utilized SH wheat to bridge gene transfer from Ae. tauschii and durum wheat to hexaploid bread wheat. This is a unique example of success utilizing wild relatives in mainstream breeding at large scale worldwide. Our study aimed to determine the genetic contribution of SH wheat to CIMMYT’s global spring bread wheat breeding program. We estimated the theoretical and empirical contribution of D’ to synthetic derivative lines using the ancestral pedigree and marker information using over 1,600 advanced lines and their parents. The average marker-estimated D’ contribution was 17.5% with diference in genome segments suggesting application of diferential selection pressure. The pedigree-based contribution was correlated with marker-based estimates without providing chromosome segment specifc variation. Results from international yield trials showed that 20% of the lines were synthetic derived with an average D’ contribution of 15.6%. Our results underline the importance of SH wheat in maintaining and enhancing genetic diversity and genetic gain over years and is important for development of a more targeted introgression strategy. The study provides retrospective view into development and utilization of SH in the CIMMYT Global Wheat Program.

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