Identification, analysis and development of salt responsive candidate gene based SSR markers in wheat

Research paper by Amit Kumar Singh, Shiksha Chaurasia, Sundeep Kumar, Rakesh Singh, Jyoti Kumari, Mahesh C. Yadav, Nidhi Singh, Sonam Gaba, Sherry Rachel Jacob

Indexed on: 21 Oct '18Published on: 20 Oct '18Published in: BMC Plant Biology


Salinity severely limits wheat production in many parts of the world. Development of salt tolerant varieties represents the most practical option for enhancing wheat production from these areas. Application of marker assisted selection may assist in fast tracking development of salt tolerant wheat varieties. However, SSR markers available in the public domain are not specifically targeted to functional regions of wheat genome, therefore large numbers of these need to be analysed for identification of markers associated with traits of interest. With the availability of a fully annotated wheat genome assembly, it is possible to develop SSR markers specifically targeted to genic regions. We performed extensive analysis to identify candidate gene based SSRs and assessed their utility in characterizing molecular diversity in a panel of wheat genotypes.Our analysis revealed, 161 SSR motifs in 94 salt tolerance candidate genes of wheat. These SSR motifs were nearly equally distributed on the three wheat sub-genomes; 29.8% in A, 35.7% in B and 34.4% in D sub-genome. The maximum number of SSR motifs was present in exons (31.1%) followed by promoters (29.8%), 5’UTRs (21.1%), introns (14.3%) and 3’UTRs (3.7%). Out of the 65 candidate gene based SSR markers selected for validation, 30 were found polymorphic based on initial screening and employed for characterizing genetic diversity in a panel of wheat genotypes including salt tolerant and susceptible lines. These markers generated an average of 2.83 alleles/locus. Phylogenetic analysis revealed four clusters. Salt susceptible genotypes were mainly represented in clusters I and III, whereas high and moderate salt tolerant genotypes were distributed in the remaining two clusters. Population structure analysis revealed two sub-populations, sub-population 1 contained the majority of salt tolerant whereas sub-population 2 contained majority of susceptible genotypes. Moreover, we observed reasonably higher transferability of SSR markers to related wheat species.We have developed salt responsive gene based SSRs in wheat for the first time. These were highly useful in unravelling functional diversity among wheat genotypes with varying responses to salt stress. The identified gene based SSR markers will be valuable genomic resources for genetic/association mapping of salinity tolerance in wheat.