Genetic diversity, population structure and ancestral origin of Australian wheat Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Since the introduction of wheat into Australia by the First Fleet settlers, germplasm from different geographical origins has been used to adapt wheat to the Australian climate through selection and breeding. In this paper, we used 482 cultivars, representing the breeding history of bread wheat in Australia since 1840, to characterize their diversity and population structure and to define the geographical ancestral background of Australian wheat germplasm. This was achieved by comparing them to a global wheat collection using in-silico chromosome painting based on SNP genotyping. The global collection involved 2,335 wheat accessions which was divided into 23 different geographical subpopulations. However, the whole set was reduced to 1,544 accessions to increase the differentiation and decrease the admixture among different global subpopulations to increase the power of the painting analysis. Our analysis revealed that the structure of Australian wheat germplasm and its geographic ancestors have changed significantly through time, especially after the Green Revolution. Before 1920, breeders used cultivars from around the world, but mainly Europe and Africa, to select potential cultivars that could tolerate Australian growing conditions. Between 1921 and 1970, a dependence on African wheat germplasm became more prevalent. Since 1970, a heavy reliance on International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) germplasm has persisted. Combining the results from linkage disequilibrium, population structure and in-silico painting revealed that the dependence on CIMMYT materials has varied among different Australian States, has shrunken the germplasm effective population size and produced larger linkage disequilibrium blocks. This study documents the evolutionary history of wheat breeding in Australia and provides an understanding for how the wheat genome has been adapted to local growing conditions. This information provides a guide for industry to assist with maintaining genetic diversity for long-term selection gains and to plan future breeding programs.

publication date

  • 2017