BBSRC Embrapa - Exploiting new technologies to improve drought resilience in wheat

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Plant Biology & Crop Science

Abstract

The project builds upon a previous collaboration between plant physiologists Martin Parry (RRes), Eric Ober (NIAB) and Solange Andrade (Embrapa Cerrados). New UK and Brazilian partners will ensure a multidisciplinary, innovative approach. Anthony Hall (Liverpool) brings expertise in genomic studies and Ian Dodd (Lancaster) in drought physiology. The project will develop phenotyping tools and enhance breeding outputs at Embrapa.
Rothamsted Research (RRes) has extensive field, glasshouse and controlled environment facilities, and state-of-the-art core and specialist facilities, including the farm operation, metabolomics and bio-imaging laboratories, cereal transformation and virus-induced gene silencing technologies. A large array of wheat germplasm used in current experimentation includes panels of commercial cultivars and double haploid mapping populations, and a wheat TILLING population is also available. Martin Parry and Elizabete Carmo-Silva are working towards improving wheat carbon assimilation to increase grain yield.
The Centre for Genomics Research (CGR), University of Liverpool, is a major collaborative academic service centre that enables access to the latest advances in DNA sequencing and array technologies, data analyses and interpretation. Within CGR, the Plant genomics group, led by Anthony Hall, includes five post-doctoral researchers working on wheat genomics and cybra-infrastructure for plant genomics.
NIAB is a pioneering research and advisory organisation. Work at NIAB is guided by industry needs and farmer focussed, with strong knowledge-exchange programmes. Expertise is in breeding and genetics, farming systems development, crop physiology, agronomy, and variety evaluation. NIAB is well-equipped with machinery for field experiments and laboratories for a wide spectrum of analytical measurements. NIAB's 'Innovation Farm' is used to communicate selected findings to the farming community.
The Lancaster Environmental Centre's (LEC) offers extensive, state-of-the-art research laboratories, 15 glasshouses and 10 walk-in controlled environment rooms. Specific plant physiological equipment includes a whole-plant water use phenotyping platform and gas-exchange chamber, whole-plant pressure vessels for xylem sap collection and high throughout radioimmunossay and photoacoustic laser spectroscopy for phytohormone analysis. A field site with rainout shelters is available via a collaborative relationship with nearby Myerscough College.
Embrapa Cerrados is located at Planaltina, Distrito Federal (DF), centre of Brazil. The unit has an experimental area of 2130 hectares, including 700 hectares of permanent ecological reserves. Facilities include laboratories, greenhouses, nurseries and seed processing unit. The Embrapa Cerrados team involved in this BBSRC-Embrapa project has expertise in Breeding (Julio Albrecht), Plant Physiology (Solange Andrade), Soil Science (João Santos Jr.), Microbiology (Fabio Reis Jr.) and Water Resources (Lineu Rodrigues). The group's research aims to select high yielding wheat cultivars in Savanah areas.
Embrapa Trigo is located in Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul (RS), south of Brazil. The unit has researchers in various areas of expertise, with a particular focus on wheat breeding. The unit has a total area of 426 hectares, of which 284 hectares are used as experimental fields. Jorge Chagas (Co-I) and Marcio Silva (Co-I) will contribute their expertise in crop science and plant breeding, respectively.
The project will be closely aligned with activities under the UK-Brazil partnership for Yield Stability and Protection in a Changing Climate (PYSP), partly funded by a Newton-fund joint centre award and jointly coordinated by RRes and Embrapa. PYSP will ensure minimal duplication and maximum engagement between groups in Brazil and UK, and provide a central focus for all RRes/Embrapa activities, strengthening links across projects and ensuring greater impact and joint research synergy.

Technical Summary

N/A

Planned Impact

The proposed project has direct relevance to the Official Development Assistance (ODA) since it aims to improve food security in Brazil by decreasing the yield gap, between the potential crop yield and the yield observed on the farm, as a result of environmental constraints on crop productivity. It will join expertise in plant physiology, genomics, soil sciences and breeding to develop wheat cultivars that are more resilient to climate change, thereby enabling Brazilian farmers to obtain more reliable yields, and reducing the economic impact of droughts and contributing to the economic development of the agricultural sector in Brazil. Moreover, by contributing to ensure food security, this project will have direct impact in improving social welfare of Brazil and other developing countries.
 
Description Phenotyping experiments both in the UK and Brazil in 2015 have informed best methodological practices to efficiently screen germplasm. Data with the whole plant phenotyping platform at Lancaster have shown that genotypic variation in the response of transpiration to atmospheric VPD is correlated with whole plant water use efficiency. The genic sequence of Chinese Spring wheat was utilized to design a 12Mb Agilent Sure select capture probe set for targeted gene enrichment (100,000 120-Mer RNA based probes). The capture probe set was used to enrich a subset of 8 hexaploid wheat lines from the Watkins landrace collection core set (119 lines) that are thought to represent the diversity of the full Watkins collection of 826 lines. Sequencing data for the 8 lines allowed us to develop a mapping and SNP calling pipeline for data analysis. Analysis of the sequenced lines showed that, for all of the lines, due to high similarity between the sub-genomes, we can capture the three wheat genomes with a single probe and with the additional use of paired end sequencing reads we can extend sequencing data into the regions surrounding the capture probe set totalling ~144Mbp of genic sequence per sample. This information will feed directly into our full project proposal as the data analysis pipeline can be deployed for the selected germplasm. Moreover, while the initial analyses concentrated on traits associated with wheat productivity, like drought tolerance this is also a multigenic trait and thus affected by the same constraints.
Exploitation Route The information and resources generated in this pump priming project could be exploited in other research projects focused on wheat improvement
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description IWYP -Wider and faster: high-throughout phenotypic exploration of novel genetic variation for breeding high biomass and yield in wheat
Amount £1,010,000 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/N021061/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2019
 
Description Embrapa 
Organisation Embrapa Trigo
Country Brazil 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Led development of grant applications, research plans.
Collaborator Contribution Contributed in development of grant applications, designed experiments.
Impact funded grant application
Start Year 2014
 
Description Embrapa Cerrados 
Organisation Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation
Department Embrapa Cerrados
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Led development of grant proposals, research discussions, research management, networking events
Collaborator Contribution Collaborated in thedevelopment of grant proposals, research discussions, networking and dissemination events
Impact Funded grant applications, networking activities in the UK and Brazil.
Start Year 2014
 
Description University of Liverpool 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Department Department of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Led and contributed to grant applications, research discussions, exchanged materials
Collaborator Contribution Led and contributed to grant applications, research discussions, exchanged materials
Impact Funded research projects
Start Year 2012
 
Description Food, Health and Environmental Security 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact New breeding approaches to increase the yield & quality of crops. Palma de Mallorca, February 20 - 22nd, 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description 2nd Agriculture and Climate Change Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 2nd Agriculture and Climate Change Conference
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Waitrose Agronomy Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Plant breeding and genetics for enhanced yield
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description World Grain Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Keynote lecture and breakfast discussion with minister of agriculture at the World Grain forum in Sochi, Russia
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description • 'Capturing more carbon while using water and nutrients more effectively' Global Plant Council Stress Resilience Symposium Stress Resilience Symposium, Foz do Iguaçu Brazil. October 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk 'Capturing more carbon while using water and nutrients more effectively' at the Global Plant Council Stress Resilience Symposium at , Foz do Iguaçu Brazil. October 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description • 'Discovery and creation of genetic variation to enhance the yield potential of wheat' Keynote lecture at 9th International Wheat Conference IWC Sydney, Australia September 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited talk 'Discovery and creation of genetic variation to enhance the yield potential of wheat' Keynote lecture at 9th International Wheat Conference IWC Sydney, Australia September 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description • 'Plenary Lecture at the 1st International Workshop on Food and Health Security, Lima Peru October 2016. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Plenary talk on 'Discovery and creation of genetic variation to increase crop performance for current and future environments' at the 1st International Workshop on Food and Health Security, Lima Peru October 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016