Genetic atlas, reliable QTL and candidate genes of yield component traits in wheat were figured out, laying concrete foundations for map-based gene cloning and dissection of regulatory mechanisms underlying yield.


Mining genetic loci for yield is challenging due to the polygenic nature, large influence of environment and complex relationship among yield component traits (YCT). Many genetic loci related to wheat yield have been identified, but its genetic architecture and key genetic loci for selection are largely unknown. Wheat yield potential can be determined by three YCT, thousand kernel weight, kernel number per spike and spike number. Here, we summarized the genetic loci underpinning YCT from QTL mapping, association analysis and homology-based gene cloning. The major loci determining yield-associated agronomic traits, such as flowering time and plant height, were also included in comparative analyses with those for YCT. We integrated yield-related genetic loci onto chromosomes based on their physical locations. To identify the major stable loci for YCT, 58 QTL-rich clusters (QRC) were defined based on their distribution on chromosomes. Candidate genes in each QRC were predicted according to gene annotation of the wheat reference genome and previous information on validation of those genes in other species. Finally, a technological route was proposed to take full advantage of the resultant resources for gene cloning, molecular marker-assisted breeding and dissection of molecular regulatory mechanisms underlying wheat yield.