Nitrogen use efficiency is regulated by interacting proteins relevant to development in wheat
Publication: Plant Biotechnology Journal
Wheat (Triticum aestivum) has low nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). The genetic mechanisms controlling NUE are unknown. Positional cloning of a major quantitative trait locus for N-related agronomic traits showed that the vernalization gene TaVRN-A1 was tightly linked with TaNUE1, the gene shown to influence NUE in wheat. Because of an Ala180/Val180 substitution, TaVRN-A1a and TaVRN-A1b proteins interact differentially with TaANR1, a protein encoded by a wheat orthologue of Arabidopsis nitrate regulated 1 (ANR1). The transcripts of both TaVRN-A1 and TaANR1 were down-regulated by nitrogen. TaANR1 was functionally characterized in TaANR1::RNAi transgenic wheat, and in a natural mutant with a 23-bp deletion including 10-bp at the 50 end of intron 5 and 13-bp of exon 6 in gDNA sequence in its gDNA sequence, which produced transcript that lacked the full 84-bp exon 6. Both TaANR1 and TaHOX1 bound to the Ala180/ Val180 position of TaVRN-A1. Genetically incorporating favourable alleles from TaVRN-A1, TaANR1 and TaHOX1 increased grain yield from 9.84% to 11.58% in the field. Molecular markers for allelic variation of the genes that regulate nitrogen can be used in breeding programmes aimed at improving NUE and yield in novel wheat cultivars.