BACKGROUND:Ecological environments shape plant architecture and alter the growing season, which provides the basis for wheat genetic improvement. Therefore, understanding the genetic basis of grain yield and yield-related traits in specific ecological environments is important. RESULTS:A structured panel of 96 elite wheat cultivars grown in the High-yield zone of Henan province in China was genotyped using an Illumina iSelect 90 K SNP assay. Selection pressure derived from ecological environments of mountain front and plain region provided the initial impetus for population divergence. This determined the dominant traits in two subpopulations (spike number and spike percentage were dominance in subpopulation 2:1; thousand-kernel weight, grain filling rate (GFR), maturity date (MD), and fertility period (FP) were dominance in subpopulation 2:2), which was also consistent with their inheritance from the donor parents. Genome wide association studies identified 107 significant SNPs for 12 yield-related traits and 10 regions were pleiotropic to multiple traits. Especially, GY was co-located with MD/FP, GFR and HD at QTL-ple5A, QTL-ple7A.1 and QTL-ple7B.1 region. Further selective sweep analysis revealled that regions under selection were around QTLs for these traits. Especially, grain yield (GY) is positively correlated with MD/FP and they were co-located at the VRN-1A locus. Besides, a selective sweep signal was detected at VRN-1B locus which was only significance to MD/FP. CONCLUSIONS:The results indicated that extensive differential in allele frequency driven by ecological selection has shaped plant architecture and growing season during yield improvement. The QTLs for yield and yield components detected in this study probably be selectively applied in molecular breeding.