Detection and validation of genomic regions associated with resistance to rust diseases in a worldwide hexaploid wheat landrace collection using BayesR and mixed linear model approaches
BayesR and MLM association mapping approaches in common wheat landraces were used to identify genomic regions conferring resistance to Yr, Lr, and Sr diseases. Deployment of rust resistant cultivars is the most economically effective and environmentally friendly strategy to control rust diseases in wheat. However, the highly evolving nature of wheat rust pathogens demands continued identification, characterization, and transfer of new resistance alleles into new varieties to achieve durable rust control. In this study, we undertook genome-wide association studies (GWAS) using a mixed linear model (MLM) and the Bayesian multilocus method (BayesR) to identify QTL contributing to leaf rust (Lr), stem rust (Sr), and stripe rust (Yr) resistance. Our study included 676 pre-Green Revolution common wheat landrace accessions collected in the 1920-1930s by A.E. Watkins. We show that both methods produce similar results, although BayesR had reduced background signals, enabling clearer definition of QTL positions. For the three rust diseases, we found 5 (Lr), 14 (Yr), and 11 (Sr) SNPs significant in both methods above stringent false-discovery rate thresholds. Validation of marker-trait associations with known rust QTL from the literature and additional genotypic and phenotypic characterisation of biparental populations showed that the landraces harbour both previously mapped and potentially new genes for resistance to rust diseases. Our results demonstrate that pre-Green Revolution landraces provide a rich source of genes to increase genetic diversity for rust resistance to facilitate the development of wheat varieties with more durable rust resistance.