Phenotypic plasticity is one of the main mechanisms of adaptation to abiotic stresses via changes in critical developmental stages. Altering flowering phenology is a key evolutionary strategy of plant adaptation to abiotic stresses, to achieve the maximum possible reproduction. The current study is the first to apply the linear regression residuals as drought plasticity scores while considering the variation in flowering phenology and traits under non-stress conditions. We characterized the genomic architecture of 17 complex traits and their drought plasticity scores for quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, using a mapping population derived from a cross between durum wheat (Triticum turgidum ssp. durum) and wild emmer wheat (T. turgidum ssp. dicoccoides). We identified 79 QTLs affected observed traits and their plasticity scores, of which 33 reflected plasticity in response to water stress and exhibited epistatic interactions and/or pleiotropy between the observed and plasticity traits. Vrn-B3 (TaTF1) residing within an interval of a major drought-escape QTL was proposed as a candidate gene. The favorable alleles for most of the plasticity QTLs were contributed by wild emmer wheat, demonstrating its high potential for wheat improvement. Our study presents a new approach for the quantification of plant adaptation to various stresses and provides new insights into the genetic basis of wheat complex traits under water-deficit stress.
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© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
- Drought resistance strategies
- Flowering phenology
- Genomic architecture
- Linear regression
- Phenotypic plasticity
- QTL analysis
- Wild emmer wheat