Characterization and testing of reduced height (RHT) hypomorphs in durum and spring wheat
Ugrin, Josey Mackinsey
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The Reduced Height (Rht) gene in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) increases yield by partitioning less nutrients to stem elongation and more towards spike development. In hexaploid wheat, the mutations Rht-B1b and Rht-D1b, create high-yielding semi-dwarf varieties. While Rht-B1b and Rht-D1b have been widely adopted due to their ability to increase yield, they also have drawbacks such as smaller seed size and lower protein content. Furthermore, tetraploid durum wheat (Triticum. turgidum L), Rht-B1b creates plants that are shorter than in hexaploid wheat under Northern Great Plains growing conditions. This project aimed to further characterize Rht and to develop a plant height intermediate between current standard-height and semi-dwarf varieties to increase yield in both durum and spring wheat. To create novel Rht alleles, seeds were mutagenized with Ethyl-methanesulfonate (EMS) and mutations were identified. Near-isogenic lines (NILS) were developed for the two Rht-A1 alleles and Rht-B1b-E529K alleles in semi-dwarf (Rht-B1b) and standard height (Rht-B1a) varieties in durum. In spring wheat, NILs were developed for eight Rht-A1 alleles in two high-yielding Montana varieties. These NILS were planted in field trials and plant height and grain traits were measured. Four novel mutations, Rht-A1-E63K, Rht-A1-Q6*, Rht-A1-V55M, and Rht-A1-53T in spring wheat and two mutations in durum, Rht-B1b-E529K and Rht-A1-S50F all had either significantly changed height or grain traits. Along with developing and testing Rht alleles for field trait improvement, we did a study to characterize an Rht stop-codon dosage response in wheat. Previous studies in rice and barley have indicated that a lack of the functional SLR1/SLN1 gene respectively, results in an abnormal growth response characterized by taller height and slender appearance. This effect on Rht function has yet to be tested in wheat. Rht nonsense alleles were created by screening an EMS treated population created using seed of a standard-height Montana variety. We combined mutations creating lines homozygous for single, double, or triple mutations. In field trials, Rht triple mutants exhibited a slender, elongated phenotype with strike heads similar to SLN1 mutants in barley. Differences in height varied for the other crosses but did trend towards increased height with increased Rht-stop mutation dosage.