Wheat cultivars largely differ in the content and composition of ATI proteins, but heritability was quite low for six out of eight ATIs. The genetic architecture of ATI proteins is built up of few major and numerous small effect QTL. Amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) are important allergens in baker’s asthma and suspected triggers of non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) inducing intestinal and extra-intestinal inflammation. As studies on the expression and genetic architecture of ATI proteins in wheat are lacking, we evaluated 149 European old and modern bread wheat cultivars grown at three different field locations for their content of eight ATI proteins. Large differences in the content and composition of ATIs in the different cultivars were identified ranging from 3.76 pmol for ATI CM2 to 80.4 pmol for ATI 0.19, with up to 2.5-fold variation in CM-type and up to sixfold variation in mono/dimeric ATIs. Generally, heritability estimates were low except for ATI 0.28 and ATI CM2. ATI protein content showed a low correlation with quality traits commonly analyzed in wheat breeding. Similarly, no trends were found regarding ATI content in wheat cultivars originating from numerous countries and decades of breeding history. Genome-wide association mapping revealed a complex genetic architecture built of many small, few medium and two major quantitative trait loci (QTL). The major QTL were located on chromosomes 3B for ATI 0.19-like and 6B for ATI 0.28, explaining 70.6 and 68.7% of the genotypic variance, respectively. Within close physical proximity to the medium and major QTL, we identified eight potential candidate genes on the wheat reference genome encoding structurally related lipid transfer proteins. Consequently, selection and breeding of wheat cultivars with low ATI protein amounts appear difficult requiring other strategies to reduce ATI content in wheat products.
© 2021. The Author(s).