Using high-throughput phenotyping and genome wide association study (GWAS) techniques to identify molecular markers for transpiration efficiency in wheat

Andrew Fletcher1, Alison Kelly2,3, Jack Christopher2, Valeria Paccapelo3, Karine Chenu1

1The University of Queensland, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), 203 Tor Street, Toowoomba, Queensland 4350, Australia. Email:,
2The University of Queensland, QAAFI, Leslie Research Facility, PO Box 2282, Toowoomba, QLD 4350, Australia,
3Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Leslie Research Facility, Toowoomba, QLD, Australia


While drought is typically limiting for wheat productivity in rain fed cropping systems around the world, climate models predict more variable rainfall as well as increased temperature and evaporative demand in major production regions. Breeding for greater transpiration efficiency (TE) has been proposed as a means to improve crop yield in water-limited environments, especially where crops rely on stored soil moisture. Using a recently developed high-throughput lysimeter platform and a genetically-structured mapping population, two experiments were conducted to explore genetic variability of TE in wheat. Using GWAS techniques, 17 QTL for TE were identified. These QTL were detected using a nested association mapping (NAM) population, in which a high yielding cultivar in the northern region of the Australian wheatbelt (Suntop) was crossed to 10 donor lines each having adaptive traits including some with adaptation for heat and drought stress. Thus, identified QTL have potential to assist breeders to improve TE and yield in wheat for drought-prone environments, particularly in the northern region of the Australian wheatbelt.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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