The establishment and application of a forward genetic resource for the development of efficient breeding strategies in grass and cereals

Lead Research Organisation: Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences
Department Name: Plant Genetics and Breeding


The work described will provide a generic resource for the amalgamation of data on the genetic control of target traits in grass, wheat, barley, rice and other monocots, i.e. information obtained from one species will be directly transferable to the other species. This information will be used by grass, wheat and barley breeders etc. for the development of superior plant varieties. The work is aimed at all traits and not merely a single trait. However, initial work will concentrate on the amalgamation and transfer of genetic information between species on key sustainability and climate change breeding priorities outlined by the Crop Science Review and Defra as well as production traits. These include the traits of nitrogen use efficiency (leading to low fertiliser input), tolerance to abiotic stress and root architecture (leading to prevention of water run off and thus prevention of pollution to water courses and tolerance to drought) for which genes have been identified on Lolium/Festuca chromosomes. The work will make explicit use of the rice genome which has been substantially sequenced and the fact that gene order in the monocot species has to a large extent been maintained during evolution. Research will also be undertaken to improve the efficiency of breeding strategies in grass, wheat, barley and other monocots. In addition the work undertaken will facilitate the identification of genes controlling target traits. This knowledge will be employed and exploited in breeding programmes via conventional means.

Technical Summary

The aims of this proposal are to undertake high resolution comparative and recombination analyses of grass, wheat and barley by exploitation of the rice genome sequence and the Lolium/Festuca introgression system. The work will be exploited to establish a resource that will enable a range of targets to be met including the transfer of information on the genetic control of target traits between the monocot species for utilisation in breeding programmes for crop improvement and the generation of anchor markers for the development of a physical map of Lolium. The goals of this research will be achieved via the Lolium/Festuca introgression mapping system. The ability to distinguish the chromosomes of Lolium and Festuca using genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH), coupled to the high frequency of recombination between the chromosomes of Lolium and Festuca enables each of the Lolium/Festuca chromosomes to be divided up into a series of physically and genetically demarcated bins.
Description In this research programme we transferred the entire genome of Festuca pratensis into Lolium perenne in small overlapping segments. This represents the largest introgression programme ever undertaken in the monocots. This germplasm and the genetic markers developed have provided a platform for identification of traits in grassland research and also provided the genetic markers which have led to the physical mapping of the Lolium genome.
Exploitation Route They have been used for identifying the genetic control of target traits and the physical mapping of the Lolium genome.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink

Description The lines are being used through the determination of the genetic control of target traits to 1) develop superior grass varieties that are adapted to the environment and environmental change and 2) to the physical mapping and the future sequencing of the Lolium genome.
First Year Of Impact 2007
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic