March 2, 2024

Colorado State University. Soil and Crop Sciences

Improved drought tolerance and nitrogen use efficiency in wheat are traits that are crucially important to Colorado wheat growers. They will become even more indispensable if climate change and energy price trends continue as predicted.
Colorado State University researchers Pat Byrne and Scott Haley will address these needs by evaluating 300 varieties of winter wheat for yield, drought tolerance, and nitrogen use efficiency. The evaluation will take place under a range of soil moisture conditions in coordination with similar trials in Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. By combining trait data with DNA marker profiles, the goal is to identify genes or chromosome regions that control variation for the relevant traits. The team will then devise breeding strategies based on natural genetic variation and sophisticated computer programs to develop wheat varieties that display optimum combinations of the desired traits.
Our expected results are robust, stable wheat varieties that yield well under a broad range of soil moisture conditions and reduced levels of nitrogen fertilizer. Excellent opportunities for graduate and undergraduate student training will be integral parts of the project.

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Pat Byrne, Scott Haley