The genetic basis of increased rooting below the plough layer, post-anthesis in the field, of an elite wheat line (Triticum aestivum cv. Shamrock) with recent introgression from wild emmer (T. dicoccoides), is here investigated. Drought post-anthesis severely affects bread wheat yields as grain set and grain filling are compromised; increasing the proportion of root systems reaching deeper soil layers improves the crop’s access to subsoil water at later growth stages and directly impacts yield.
A linkage map was produced using single nucleotide polymorphism markers to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for rooting traits. Clarke et al. find significant genetic diversity in a doubled haploid wheat population for field root length density at anthesis. Wild emmer introgressions were found to influence rooting ability both in the field and in controlled environment conditions. Identifying genetic controls for rooting at depth in the field environment is important for wheat breeders aiming for more efficient root distribution in the soil profile.