Harnessing genetic potential of wheat germplasm banks through impact-oriented-prebreeding for future food and nutritional security
The value of exotic wheat genetic resources for accelerating grain yield gains is largely unproven and unrealized. We used next-generation sequencing, together with multi-environment phenotyping, to study the contribution of exotic genomes to 984 three-way-cross-derived (exotic/elite1//elite2) pre-breeding lines (PBLs). Genomic characterization of these lines with haplotype map-based and SNP marker approaches revealed exotic specific imprints of 16.1 to 25.1%, which compares to theoretical expectation of 25%. A rare and favorable haplotype (GT) with 0.4% frequency in gene bank identified on chromosome 6D minimized grain yield (GY) loss under heat stress without GY penalty under irrigated conditions. More specifically, the `T' allele of the haplotype GT originated in Aegilops tauschii and was absent in all elite lines used in study. In silico analysis of the SNP showed hits with a candidate gene coding for isoflavone reductase IRL-like protein in Ae. tauschii. Rare haplotypes were also identified on chromosomes 1A, 6A and 2B effective against abiotic/biotic stresses. Results demonstrate positive contributions of exotic germplasm to PBLs derived from crosses of exotics with CIMMYT's best elite lines. This is a major impact-oriented pre-breeding effort at CIMMYT, resulting in large-scale development of PBLs for deployment in breeding programs addressing food security under climate change scenarios.