Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat (INEW)

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Plant Sciences

Abstract

Wheat is the most important staple crop grown in the UK, and one of the two major crops grown in India. Nitrogen fertiliser is a key determinant of yield and the major cost of wheat production in both countries and excessive application can result in pollution of groundwater and increased production of greenhouse gases. Breeders and farmers in the UK and India have worked hard to improve the efficiency of use of applied nitrogen, by improving the uptake and utilization efficiency within the crop through genetic improvement, together with the precision of fertilizer application in the field. However, further improvements are required to face the challenges of increasing crop production for an expanding global population with increasing uncertainty of climate. Both yield and quality attributes are dependent upon nitrogen inputs and need to be incorporated into economic and sustainable solutions.
We will therefore bring together the major UK and Indian wheat researchers with programmes on wheat improvement to determine the genetic control of nitrogen use efficiency in wheat. These comprise scientists from five Universities and Institutes in the UK and from six in New Delhi, Haryana and the Punjab, which is the major wheat-producing area of India.
The studies will focus on comparisons of wheat lines and populations which differ in their nitrogen use efficiency. These lines will be grown in field experiments in both countries and studied in detail using a range of biochemical and molecular genetic approaches. This will lead to the identification of genes and molecular markers that can be exploited by wheat breeders globally, and to new strategies for improving the precision of nitrogen application which will delivered to farmers via well-established mechanisms in both countries. Furthermore, since similar mechanisms are expected to determine nitrogen use efficiency in other plant species the results should be of wider applicability to other crops and countries.
In addition to supporting a closely integrated research programme in the UK and India, the Centre will also provide a legacy of shared facilities, technologies, genetic material and datasets that will facilitate longer term bilateral collaborations, and provide training in crop genetics and genomics and exchanges for early career scientists and students in both countries.

Planned Impact

Wheat is the major staple crop in both the UK, with 12-15 million tonnes being grown annually, and in India, where production is between 90 and 95 million tonnes a year.

Nitrogen is the major agronomic input that determines the performance and productivity of wheat, in both rainfed systems in the UK and Western Europe and irrigated systems in India. This has consequences for production costs, with nitrogen being the major production cost for UK farmers, and for the environmental footprint of the crop, with fertilizer nitrogen contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and to contamination of ground water. In the UK, farmers applied over 1 million tonnes of nitrogen fertiliser in 2012, with a cost of £800m. Similarly, in India, about approximately 12 million tonnes of fertilizer nitrogen fertiliser were applied during 2012-13 (about 15% of total world use) at an estimated cost of £3,000 million. The use of nitrogen fertiliser also has a global impact in terms of pollution of groundwaters and the generation of greenhouse gases. The "preliminary global social cost for all forms of N pollution has recently been estimated at 200 to 2000 billion US dollars per annually' (Sutton M.A. et al. (2013) Our Nutrient World). It is clear that the continued application of high levels of nitrogen fertilizer fertiliser, combined with inefficient capture and utilization utilisation is not sustainable, in both economic and environmental terms.
Hence, the proposal will bring together the major groups and institutions with expertise in NUE in wheat in India and the UK, under a Virtual Joint Centre, in order to develop genetic strategies to optimise the efficiency of nitrogen uptake and use within the wheat plant. This will minimise losses from the soil and maximise the proportion of the nitrogen that is recovered in the proteins of the mature grain. Thus, the centre will have significant societal impacts from improvements to food security, reduced environmental impacts via reduced ls of reactive nitrogen from fertiliser applications, and economic impacts from reducing the use of nitrogen-based fertilisers and associated crop production costs for farmers.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The first two years field trials have been completed in the UK and will be completed in India in May. A course for 26 Indian students and early career scientists on "Quantitative Methods in Plant Breeding" was held in Ludhiana on 29-August to 2 September at PAU Ludhiana, organised by Drs Alison Bentley and Ian MacKay (NIAB). Two further training courses were run in the UK, on Wheat Genetics and Marker Development (Bristol and JIC, 11-16 June 2017) and on Phenotyping and Phenomics (Rothamsted and Nottingham, 7-9 June 2017).
Mapping of UK the germplasm with KASP markers has been completed at the University of Bristol. Mapping of the Indian germplasm is in progress in New Delhi.
Exploitation Route With Indian and UK wheat breeders and agronomists
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Global Challenges Research Fund
Amount £7,867,776 (GBP)
Funding ID BB/P027970/1 
Organisation Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Title New markers and new genotyping platform for wheat breeding 
Description New Axiom markers for use in wheat breeding 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact New markers and new GbyS genotyping platform for screening and genotyping wheat 
 
Title CerealsDB 
Description The CerealsDB web-site was created by members of the Functional Genomics Group at the University of Bristol. The site provides a range of facilities for the study of the wheat genome. The site has been designed with breeders in mind, and we hope that is will be easy and straightforward to use. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact There have been over 1,528,817 unique visits to the websites and our various datasets have been downloaded 48,295 times (35K Wheat breeders Array: 45,445 downloads and 820K High Density Wheat Array; 2,850 downloads). The trend of increased numbers of researchers visiting our web site shows no sign of slowing down; running as it is at greater than 50,000 unique visits per month. 
URL http://www.cerealsdb.uk.net/
 
Description Challenges and opportunities for agricultural nitrogen science in India 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Joint Nitrogen VJC Meeting: Challenges and opportunities for agricultural nitrogen science in India
New Delhi, 3-5 October 2017
P. K. Mandal: Understanding Biochemical and Molecular Basis of Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat.
We focus on understanding Nitrogen (nitrate) Uptake and Utilization efficiency in contrasting wheat genotypes at biochemical and molecular level. Our results showed considerable genotypic variation for both the component traits at transcript, metabolism (C & N) and RSA level under N-stress. We also observed genotype specific transcript data-set apart from the common transcripts in our microarray study.

Till K Pellny: The Watkins collection as a source for genetically versatile pre-breeding lines.
The Watkins collection comprises of phenotypically diverse landraces collected in the 1920s and 1930s from 32 countries, including India. A nested association mapping panel using 85 founders with Paragon (UK spring) as the common parent has been established at the JIC within the BBSRC WISP project. We are utilizing adapted subgroups from some of these families for field trails in India and the UK.

John Foulkes: Exploiting phenology and adaptation to improve N use efficiency in wheat.
A NAM population of Paragon x Watkins landrace RILs and a panel of MAGIC lines selected for phenology are being phenotyped at UK sites. RILs from the same NAM population are being phenotyped by Indian partners. Phenotyping is focused on N uptake and utilization and root and canopy photosynthesis traits Preliminary results at UK sites and strategies for developing rapid NUE screens are presented.

M.L. Jat: Precision nutrition platform at BISA.
Improving NUE is critical to achieve continued food security & income enhancement & sustaining the soil, plant, and environment, human and animal health. Considering the importance of integrating genetics and precision agronomic management; as a part of INEW, the 'Precision Nutrition Platform" has been established at BISA, Ludhiana, for integrating genotypes and precision agronomic management practices to capture the interactions for attaining higher NUE.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.news-india-uk.international/vjcmeeting/press_release
 
Description Engagement with industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion with breeder regarding marker development for tracking introgressions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engagement with industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Germplasm exchange for technical development
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engagement with industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Transfer of markers to technology provider to aid the development of a new genotyping platform
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engagement with industry 
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 Meeting with technology provider regarding a new genotyping platform and its application
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Engagement with industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussion with technology provider regarding optimisation of new technology for wheat
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Engagement with industry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting with service providers for genotyping technical development
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Exploiting phenology and adaptation to improve NUE in wheat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk " Exploiting phenology and adaptation to improve NUE in wheat" was given on 4 October 2017 at the Workshop of Virtual Joint Centres between India and the UK on "Challenges and opportunities for agricultural nitrogen science in India" held at NASC Complex, Pusa, DPS Marg, New Delhi (3-5 October 2017) by Dr John Foulkes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact MonoGram 2016
12-14 April 2016, Cambridge, UK
Conference Presentation: "Indo-UK Centre for the improvement of Nitrogen use Efficiency in Wheat (INEW)"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Indo-UK Research Collaboration to Improve Nitrogen Use Efficiency in Wheat 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Soma Marla, ICAR.NBPGR, New Delhi, India
Nitrogen is the major agronomic input that determines the performance and productivity of wheat crop in both India and UK. With nitrogen being the major production cost for farmers, it has a huge environmental footprint, in terms of pollution of ground waters and generation of greenhouse gases. To minimize the use of applied Nitrogen fertilizers a cross-Institute pre-breeding programme (INEW virtual centre) under India-UK partnership is being executed to identify sources of traits and developing markers for use in academic research and transfer to commercial breeding programmes and responsibility for delivering improved wheat varieties to Indian farmers. The Virtual Joint Centre is bringing together major wheat researchers from ICAR.IARI in New Delhi, Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research, Karnal, Bourlag Institute for South Asia, Punjab, National Bureau of Plant Genetic resources, New Delhi and National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi,Punjab Agricultural University. UK partner institutions are Rothamsted research, University of Nottingham, University of Bristol, John Inns Centre and National Institute of Agricultural Botany.
The core of the project is precision field trials being conducted in India and UK using germplasm from both countries, in which the fate of nitrogen in the plant will be followed from root uptake to seed maturity, at limiting and adequate levels of fertilisation. Its impact on grain yield and grain quality in these lines will be studied in detail using the platform technologies (Fig.1) providing information on the relationship between performance and phenology. Major mandate includes integrated study of the genetic, biochemical and molecular basis for improved N use efficiency from mechanisms of nitrogen uptake to partitioning in the grain and effects on processing quality. Candidate genes that control key processes limiting N use efficiency will be identified. The study will be supported by genotyping of germplasm and identification of key genes, enzymes involved, their variation employing high density SNP arrays and transcriptome analysis. Molecular markers developed for key traits will be transferred to wheat breeders in UK and India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited seminar (Indian Institute of Science) 
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 on "Developments in wheat genetics and breeding" at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (24/5/17) including a detailed Q&A and visits to a number of key departments to discuss future collaborative opportunities.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Invited speaker at PlantGen2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on genetics of adaptation in bread wheat
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.google.co.uk/search?dcr=0&ei=a4WmWpCDJ6GUgAaRpKLwDg&q=plantgen+2017&oq=plantgen+2017&gs_...
 
Description Meeting with South African deligation to discuss meiosis, genotyping and wheat breeding 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting with British Council lead South African delegation to discuss wheat breeding and possible further links
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Update on progress in INEW project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.cerealsdb.uk.net/cerealgenomics/INEW/index.html
 
Description Public dialog and debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A pint of science debate on the price of bread and wheat breeding
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Radio broadcast Farming today 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Interview for farming today on wheat breeding and its importance; 14th July 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Rank Prize acceptance speech 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Rank prize (2018) acceptance speech
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.rankprize.org/index.php/prizes/prizes-2018
 
Description The Watkins Collection as a Source for Genetically Versatile PreBreeding Lines for NUE 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Till K Pellny
4th Conference of Cereal Biotechnology and Breeding
06-09 Nov 2017, Budapest, Hungary
Conference poster: The Watkins Collection as a Source for Genetically Versatile PreBreeding Lines for NUE
1st Prize for the Outstanding Poster
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description UKSBS group visit to NIAB 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Participation and presentation to "Research Sector" visit to Cambridge arranged by Linda Holliday (Director of Capacity and Skills Development, Medical Research Council, Chair of cross-research sector forum on immigration), Graeme Ross (Head of Immigration at University of Cambridge) and Stephen Longson (Head of Immigration at UKSBS/RCUK). Objective to allow staff from across government departments to experience the global, collaborative nature of science and research taking place in the UK, highlighting some of the interdependencies between immigration policy, research funding, Research Organisations and key stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description demonstration of INEW field trial at Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The INEW field trial at Nottingham was demonstrated to the East Midlands Farmers' Association group in a visit in June 2017.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017