March 2, 2024

Virginia Tech. Small Grains Breeding & Genetics Program

To date, development of higher yielding wheat cultivars has occurred at a steady and consistent rate, yet progress has been limited by lack of knowledge and capability to directly select for yield and the genetic factors contributing to higher yields and production efficiency. The goals of these studies are to identify rapid and predictive tools to select wheat lines that are most productive and to delineate genetic factors having a favorable impact on yield and nitrogen use efficiency (NUE). Yield and related traits, and crop canopy spectral reflectance (CSR) will be evaluated under standard and low N regimes in an elite panel of 300 SRW wheat lines that are representative of the SRW wheat germplasm base in existing breeding programs. Association between CSR, NUE, and yield related traits with DNA markers on all wheat chromosomes will be used to develop rapid and more effective methods for yield selection. Effectiveness of CSR and marker assisted selection for yield will be validated in regional tests comprised of 100 pairs of high and low yielding sister lines derived from common crosses. To further refine this methodology, a set of the six best and six worst NUE lines (based on and yield response CSR estimates) will be evaluated under five N levels in a split plots with three reps. Yield and protein data will be collected to assess the efficacy of CSR as a predictor NUE across a broad range. Genetic factors contributing most favorably to yield and yield stability will be determined via association analysis of yield with DNA markers among 432 elite breeding lines per program. Marker assisted and CSR selection for yield and production efficiency will then be implemented in wheat breeding programs.

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Carl Griffey