Lethin J, Shakil SSM, Hassan S, Sirijovski N, Töpel M, Olsson O, Aronsson H
BMC Plant Biol. 20 (1) 18 [2020-01-13; online 2020-01-13]
Triticum aestivum (wheat) is one of the world's oldest crops and has been used for >8000 years as a food crop in North Africa, West Asia and Europe. Today, wheat is one of the most important sources of grain for humans, and is cultivated on greater areas of land than any other crop. As the human population increases and soil salinity becomes more prevalent, there is increased pressure on wheat breeders to develop salt-tolerant varieties in order to meet growing demands for yield and grain quality. Here we developed a mutant wheat population using the moderately salt-tolerant Bangladeshi variety BARI Gom-25, with the primary goal of further increasing salt tolerance. After titrating the optimal ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS) concentration, ca 30,000 seeds were treated with 1% EMS, and 1676 lines, all originating from single seeds, survived through the first four generations. Most mutagenized lines showed a similar phenotype to BARI Gom-25, although visual differences such as dwarfing, giant plants, early and late flowering and altered leaf morphology were seen in some lines. By developing an assay for salt tolerance, and by screening the mutagenized population, we identified 70 lines exhibiting increased salt tolerance. The selected lines typically showed a 70% germination rate on filter paper soaked in 200 mM NaCl, compared to 0-30% for BARI Gom-25. From two of the salt-tolerant OlsAro lines (OA42 and OA70), genomic DNA was sequenced to 15x times coverage. A comparative analysis against the BARI Gom-25 genomic sequence identified a total of 683,201 (OA42), and 768,954 (OA70) SNPs distributed throughout the three sub-genomes (A, B and D). The mutation frequency was determined to be approximately one per 20,000 bp. All the 70 selected salt-tolerant lines were tested for root growth in the laboratory, and under saline field conditions in Bangladesh. The results showed that all the lines selected for tolerance showed a better salt tolerance phenotype than both BARI Gom-25 and other local wheat varieties tested. The mutant wheat population developed here will be a valuable resource in the development of novel salt-tolerant varieties for the benefit of saline farming.