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A deletion mutation in TaHRC confers Fhb1 resistance to Fusarium head blight in wheat


Fusarium head blight (FHB), which is mainly caused by Fusarium graminearum, is a destructive wheat disease that threatens global wheat production. Fhb1, a quantitative trait locus discovered in Chinese germplasm, provides the most stable and the largest effect on FHB resistance in wheat. Here we show that TaHRC, a gene that encodes a putative histidine-rich calcium-binding protein, is the key determinant of Fhb1-mediated resistance to FHB. We demonstrate that TaHRC encodes a nuclear protein conferring FHB susceptibility and that a deletion spanning the start codon of this gene results in FHB resistance. Identical sequences of the TaHRC-R allele in diverse accessions indicate that Fhb1 had a single origin, and phylogenetic and haplotype analyses suggest that the TaHRC-R allele most likely originated from a line carrying the Dahongpao haplotype. This discovery opens a new avenue to improve FHB resistance in wheat, and possibly in other cereal crops, by manipulating TaHRC sequence through bioengineering approaches.

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Data availability

RNA-seq data are available from the NCBI Sequence Read Archive under accession PRJNA515933. Additional data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this article and its supplementary information files.

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This project was supported by US Department of Agriculture US Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative and National Research Initiative competitive grants 2017-67007-25939 and 2017-67007-25929 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. We thank W. Wang for excellent technical support. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the US Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. This is contribution number 16-129-J from the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station.

Author information

G.B. designed the research. Z.S., A.B., B.T., H.M., H.C., S.C., D.Z. and T.L. performed the research with support from G.B., H.T. and P.S.A. D.L., J.Y., Z.Z. and S.W. analyzed data. G.B. and H.T. contributed new reagents and analytic tools. G.B. and Z.S. wrote the paper. All authors contributed to revision of the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Correspondence to Guihua Bai.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–11

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Table 1

Primers used for fine mapping, gene cloning, association mapping, diagnostic marker development and gene transformation

Supplementary Table 2

A list of genes in the Fhb1 region based on the reference sequence of Chinese Spring and CM82036

Supplementary Table 3

Differentially expressed genes between Fhb1 NILs that were identified by RNA-seq and mapped on chromosome 3B

Supplementary Table 4

List of names, identification numbers (IDs), sources of wheat accessions and sequence polymorphisms in TaHRC

Supplementary Table 5

Haplotype distribution of the three candidate genes across 1,632 wheat accessions from 73 countries worldwide

Supplementary Table 6

Comparison of FHB resistance among haplotypes Hap_Ning, Hap_DHP and Hap_ND

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Fig. 1: Fine mapping and cloning of Fhb1.
Fig. 2: Determination of TaHRC as a candidate for Fhb1.
Fig. 3: Haplotype and association analyses in natural populations identify the deletion in TaHRC as the likely causal mutation for Fhb1.
Fig. 4: Characterization of TaHRC.