Nitrogen (N) is a major nutrient needed to attain optimal grain yield (GY) in all environments. Nitrogen fertilisers represent a significant production cost, in both monetary and environmental terms. Developing genotypes capable of taking up N early during development while limiting biomass production after establishment and showing high N-use efficiency (NUE) would be economically beneficial. Genetic variation in NUE has been shown previously. Here we describe the genetic characterisation of NUE and identify genetic loci underlying N response under different N fertiliser regimes in a bread wheat population of doubled-haploid lines derived from a cross between two Australian genotypes (RAC875 x Kukri) bred for a similar production environment. NUE field trials were carried out at four sites in South Australia and two in Western Australia across three seasons. There was genotype-by-environment-by-treatment interaction across the sites and also good transgressive segregation for yield under different N supply in the population. We detected some significant Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) associated with NUE and N response at different rates of N application across the sites and years. It was also possible to identify lines showing positive N response based on the rankings of their Best Linear Unbiased Predictions (BLUPs) within a trial. Dissecting the complexity of the N effect on yield through QTL analysis is a key step towards elucidating the molecular and physiological basis of NUE in wheat.
Mahjourimajd, S., Taylor, J., Sznajder, B., Timmins, A., Shahinnia, F., Rengel, Z., ... Langridge, P. (2016). Genetic basis for variation in wheat grain yield in response to varying nitrogen application. PLoS One, 11(7), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159374