MAGIC wheat quality: utilising next-generation biological and genomics platforms for wheat quality improvement

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Plant Sciences


Wheat is the UK's most important crop. Grain, flour and breadmaking quality are critical traits for suitability of wheat harvests for intended end use. Genetic improvement is the most sustainable approach towards improving wheat quality. Recent advances in wheat genomics, mapping-population design and statistical analyses provide a timely opportunity to perform UK-relevant, high-resolution genetic analyses of wheat quality traits.

This project will use a unique wheat resources generated at NIAB: a multi-parent advanced generation inter-cross (MAGIC) population, generated from eight UK varieties via multiple rounds of intercrossing, resulting in 1,000 progeny. Parents include four classified as NABIM quality group 2 or above (Hereward, Xi19, Rialto, Robigus). The population has been genotyped with a high-density 90k SNP array. Along with facilities for quality testing and molecular labs at NIAB, these resources will be used to undertake fine-scale dissection of the genetic regions controlling multiple wheat quality traits.
Project aims are to generate: (1) Fine-scale genetic analysis of multiple grain quality characters within a single high-resolution mapping platform. (2) Breeder friendly genetic markers tagging these traits, and ultimately, map-based cloning of selected QTL. (3) Tools and approaches with which to try to predict quality, and the ability to test these hypotheses via test bakes.

This project represents the first time a UK-relevant MAGIC population has been used to investigate wheat grain quality characteristics. The project is well aligned with industrial and grower interests, and ultimately aims to provide genomics-informed strategies for the development of new varieties with improved quality parameters. "


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011194/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1645665 Studentship BB/M011194/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Rowena Cathryn Downie
Description I have fine-mapped the effects of a toxin produced by the pathogen Septoria Nodorum in wheat to a precise 20 gene region of the MAGIC population. From there I have narrow these effects to two candidate genes. The fine-mapping data has been submitted for publication. NB. The abstract for this project listed on this account was not correct at the time of submitting this update. I have contacted researchfish with regarding to updating this.
Exploitation Route The candidate genes will be taken forward within this project to hopefully prove which gene controls this effect and it will then be cloned. The markers used to fine-map the effect can be used by breeders to select against sensitivity to Septoria Nodorum.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

Description The genetic markers developed for resistance to Septoria Nodorum Blotch can be used in a commercial wheat breeding setting to develop varieties that show greater resistance to the disease. The paper listing these markers has been published. This has both an environmental and economic impact.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Economic