Fructans (fructo-oligosaccharides) are prebiotics that are thought to selectively promote the growth of colonic bifidobacteria, thereby improving human gut health. Fructans are present in the grain of wheat, a staple food crop. In the research reported here, we aimed to detect and map loci affecting grain fructan concentration in wheat using a doubled-haploid population derived from a cross between a high-fructan breeding line, Berkut, and a low-fructan cultivar, Krichauff. Fructan concentration was measured in grain samples grown at two locations in Australia and one in Kazakhstan. Fructan concentration varied widely within the population, ranging from 0.6 to 2.6% of grain dry weight, and was quite repeatable, with broad-sense heritability estimated as 0.71. With a linkage map of 528 molecular markers, quantitative trait loci (QTLs) were detected on chromosomes 2B, 3B, 5A, 6D and 7A. Of these, the QTLs on chromosomes 6D and 7A had the largest effects, explaining 17 and 27% of the total phenotypic variance, respectively, both with the favourable (high-fructan concentration) alleles contributed from Berkut. These chromosome regions had similar effects in another mapping population, Sokoll/Krichauff, with the favourable alleles contributed from Sokoll. It is concluded that grain fructan concentration of wheat can be improved by breeding and that molecular markers could be used to select effectively for favourable alleles in two regions of the wheat genome.
TAG Theoretical and Applied Genetics (2008) 117 (5) 701-709 [doi: 10.1007/s00122-008-0811-6]