A 'breeder's tool kit' to improve Hagberg Falling Number for the economic and environmental sustainability of UK wheat

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office

Abstract

Hagberg Falling Number (HFN) is one of several standards against which the UK wheat crop is routinely assessed for bread-making quality. Low HFN is a serious problem reducing grower's margins, increasing costs in the processing industries and with many negative environmental impacts. The most effective and sustainable option for achieving consistent HFN for bread-making specifications and export premiums is through proper varietal selection. Considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic systems involved through the Defra-BBSRC-funded LINK project (LK0975, 2005-2010). Despite the success of this initial discovery phase, several factors restrict the use of the project outcomes in commercial breeding programmes. There is now an opportunity to address these limitations and convert this knowledge into a 'breeder's tool kit' allowing high throughput marker-assisted selection. We have selected QTL (chromosomal regions) which have been prioritized based on stability, effect on pre-harvest sprouting (PHS)/HFN and their importance to both academic and industrial partners. We propose an extended partnership to identify and validate closely linked markers associated with these QTL to allow marker assisted breeding of new wheat varieties with improved HFN and resistance to PHS. We will evaluate interactions between these QTL in isogenic genetic backgrounds and determine their effect on yield related traits and agronomic characteristics. We will also use the precise germplasm generated in this proposal for controlled physiological experiments to characterize seed dormancy mechanisms and to exploit new technologies to accelerate marker development. This information will enable UK plant breeders to develop new, more competitive varieties of wheat with reduced environmental footprint and more consistent grain quality.

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