The Fusarium head blight (FHB) resistance QTL Qfhs.ifa-5A resides in the low-recombinogenic pericentromeric region of chromosome 5A making fine-mapping particularly arduous. Qfhs.ifa-5A primarily contributes resistance to fungal entry with the favorable allele descending from the highly Fusarium resistant cultivar Sumai-3. Fine-mapping a near-isogenic recombinant inbred line population partitioned the Qfhs.ifa-5A interval into 12 bins. Near-isogenic lines recombining at the interval were phenotyped for FHB severity, anther retention and plant height. Composite interval mapping separated the initially single QTL into two QTL. The major effect QTL Qfhs.ifa-5Ac mapped across the centromere and the smaller effect QTL Qfhs.ifa-5ASmapped to the distal half of 5AS. Although Qfhs.ifa-5Ac and Qfhs.ifa-5AS intervals were as small as 0.1 and 0.2 cM, their corresponding physical distances were large, comprising 44.1 Mbp and 49.2 Mbp, respectively. Sumai-3 alleles at either QTL improved FHB resistance and increased anther extrusion suggesting a pleiotropic effect of anthers on resistance. This hypothesis was supported by greenhouse experiments using the susceptible cultivar Remus and its resistant near-isogenic line NIL3 carrying the entire Qfhs.ifa-5A segment. By manually removing anthers prior to spray inoculation both, Remus and NIL3 became almost equally resistant in the early phase of the disease development and were significantly less diseased than variants without anther manipulation. At late time points the positive effect of the anther removal became smaller for Remus and disappeared completely for NIL3. Results affirm that absence of anthers enhanced resistance to initial infection but did not protect plants from fungal spreading within spikes.
Genetic and physical map of the wheat chromosome 5A. a Mbp positions of markers are derived from IWGSC RefSeq v1.0, b genetic linkage map of NI-RIL population (Buerstmayr et al. 2018), c QTL graphs for FHB severity (AUDPC), FHB incidence (%), anther retention (%) and plant height for means across experiments. Highlighted gray intervals in chromosome bars refer to the initial Qfhs.ifa-5A support interval. Highlighted black intervals refer to the fine-mapped Qfhs.ifa-5AS (distal) and Qfhs.ifa-5Ac (centromeric) support interval. Position of centromere is indicated