Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused primarily by Fusarium graminearum, is an important disease of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), and other cereals. In barley, the genetic basis of FHB resistance has been intensively studied through linkage mapping that identified several quantitative trait loci (QTL). However, our understanding and application of these QTL in breeding is still limited due to the complex nature and low-to-moderate heritability of FHB resistance. Previous studies used either breeding lines, unimproved varieties, or germplasm selections. Here, we used association mapping in barley landraces to identify QTL associated with FHB severity, deoxynivalenol (DON) concentration and correlated agromorphological traits. Diverse barley landraces (n = 298) from Ethiopia and Eritrea were evaluated for the traits under field conditions for 2 yr (2011–2012) in Crookston, MN, and genotyped with 7842 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers. Association mapping analysis using a mixed model corrected for pairwise relatedness between individuals identified one common resistance QTL on barley chromosome 2HL significantly associated with both FHB severity and DON concentration and another one on 4HL associated with DON concentration. The QTL identified on 2HL is associated with the row-type locus Vrs1. Both of these QTL were not significantly associated with heading date or plant height unlike other QTL reported in previous studies. Thus, the resistant accessions carrying these QTL may be used in breeding programs without the confounding effects from these agromorphological traits. Importantly, these QTL could be new alleles preserved in this unique germplasm, and the linked SNP markers found may be useful in marker-assisted introgression of resistance.
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