Population structure and association analyses of the core collection of hexaploid accessions conserved ex situ in the Japanese gene bank NBRP-Wheat

In this study, we investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of the core collection of hexaploid wheat accessions in the Japanese wheat gene bank NBRP-Wheat. The core collection, consisting of 188 accessions of Triticum aestivumT. speltaT. compactumT. sphaerococcumT. macha and T. vavilovii, was intensively genotyped by DArTseq markers and consisted of 20,186 SNPs and 60,077 present and absent variations (PAVs). Polymorphic markers were distributed in all chromosomes, with a tendency for smaller numbers on the D-genome chromosomes. We examined the population structure by Bayesian clustering and principal component analysis with a general linear model. Overall, the core collection was divided into seven clusters. Non-admixture accessions in each cluster indicated that the clusters reflect the geographic distribution of the accessions. Both structure analyses strongly suggested that the cluster consisting of T. spelta and T. macha is out-grouped from other hexaploid wheat accessions. We performed genome-wide association analysis pilot studies for nine quantitative and seven qualitative traits and found marker-trait associations for all traits but one, indicating that the current core collection will be useful for detecting uncharacterized QTLs associated with phenotypes of interest.