A simplified conceptual model of carbon/nitrogen functioning for QTL analysis of winter wheat adaptation to nitrogen deficiency
Theoretical and Applied Genetics, 2006, 113(6): 1131-1146.
Breeding new varieties adapted to low-input agricultural practices is of particular interest in light of current economical and environmental concerns. Improving nitrogen (N) uptake and N utilization efficiency (NUE) are two ways of producing varieties tolerant to low N input. To offer new possibilities to breeders, it is necessary to acquire more knowledge about these two processes. Knowing C and N metabolisms are linked and knowing N uptake is partly explained by root characteristics, we carried out a QTL analysis for traits associated with N uptake and NUE by using both a conceptual model of C/N plant functioning and a root architecture description. A total of 120 lines were selected according to their genotype among 241 doubled haploids derived from two varieties, one N stress tolerant and the other N stress sensitive. They were grown in hydroponic rhizotrons under N-limited nutritional conditions. Initial conditions varied among genotypes; therefore, total root length on day 1 was used to correct traits. Heritabilities ranged from 13 to 84%. Thirty-two QTL were located: 6 associated with root architecture (on chromosomes 4B, 5A, 5D and 7B), 6 associated with model efficiencies (1B, 2B, 6A, 6B, 7A, 7B and 7D) and 20 associated with state variables (1A, 1B, 2B, 4B, 5A, 5B and 6B). The effects of the dwarfing gene Rht-B1 on root traits are discussed, as well as the features of a conceptual plant functioning model, as a useful tool to assess pertinent traits for QTL detection. It is suggested that further studies that couple QTL with a functioning model and a root architecture description could serve in the search for ideotypes.