Multi-environmental trials reveal genetic plasticity of oat agronomic traits associated with climate variable changes

Nicolas Rispail, Gracia Montilla-Bascón, Javier Sanchez-Martin, Fernando Flores Gil, Catherine Howarth, Timothy Langdon, Diego Rubiales, Elena Prats

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Although oat cultivation around the Mediterranean basin is steadily increasing, its yield in these regions lags far behind those of Northern Europe. This results mainly from the poor adaptation of current oat cultivars to Mediterranean environments. Local landraces may act as reservoirs of favorable traits that could contribute to increase oat resilience in this region. To aid selection of suitable agro-climate adapted genotypes we integrated genome-wide association approaches with analysis of field assessed phenotypes of genetic variants and of the weight of associated markers across different environmental variables. Association models accounting for oat population structure were applied on either arithmetic means or best linear unbiased prediction (BLUPs) to ensure robust identification of associations with the agronomic traits evaluated. The meta-analysis of the six joint environments (mega-environment) identified several markers associated with several agronomic traits and crown rust severity. Five of these associated markers were located within expressed genes. These associations were only mildly influenced by climatic variables indicating that these markers are good candidates to improve the genetic potential of oat under Mediterranean conditions. The models also highlighted several marker-trait associations, strongly affected by particular climatic variables including high rain pre- or post-heading dates and high temperatures, revealing strong potential for oat adaptation to specific agro-climatic conditions. These results will contribute to increase oat resilience for particular climatic conditions and facilitate breeding for plant adaptation to a wider range of climatic conditions in the current scenario of climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1358
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2018


  • Agronomic traits
  • Climate variables
  • Genetic plasticity
  • Genome wide association studies
  • Oat


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