Future-proofing our food: exploiting landrace diversity for more efficient and resilient wheat

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

To ensure global food security, crop breeders must develop varieties which are more productive as well as more resilient to the potential impacts of climate change. Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is the most important grain source for humans, but the intensive breeding of the green revolution, whilst saving billions of lives, led to a huge bottleneck in genetic diversity. This means that traits such as heat and drought tolerance, which could become vital breeding targets in the next few decades, may need to be introduced back into the breeding pool from additional sources. Global landrace collections, made up of traditional, locally-adapted varieties, may be a good place to look for wheat lines that can tolerate heat and drought stress, and if the genetic variants underlying these traits can also be isolated, then introgression back into elite cultivars will be more efficient. The recent development of an Associative Transcriptomics platform based on landrace wheat accessions by the Harper/Bancroft labs, provides an excellent resource for associating trait variation with gene sequence (SNP) and expression (GEM) markers. During this project, the student will phenotype the landraces for their response to heat and drought, before using Associative Transcriptomics to identify genetic markers associated with them. These markers will be validated for use in marker-assisted selection, and will be used to propose candidate genes and reveal the mechanisms underlying these traits. This project offers the opportunity to apply a new statistical genetics approach to important breeding targets in bread wheat for the first time, and would suit a student who is interested in pursuing a project which combines glasshouse, laboratory and bioinformatics activities.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011151/1 30/09/2015 29/09/2023
2277961 Studentship BB/M011151/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Liam John Barratt