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AAFC IWYP Aligned Call: Increasing Wheat Yield with Multi-omics

Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: BB/T004290/1
Funded under: BBSRC Funder Contribution: 203,910 GBP

AAFC IWYP Aligned Call: Increasing Wheat Yield with Multi-omics

Description

Wheat yield gains have averaged an annualized 1.14% increase worldwide from 1991 to 2012. However, considering FAO projections that indicate the world population will exceed 9 billion in 2050, this incremental development in a basic foodstuff needs to improve dramatically. As part of the effort to improve wheat yields the International Wheat Yield Partnership has the goal of increasing wheat yields by 50% in the next 20 years. Two key protagonists in this global wheat breeding effort are Canada and the UK where research institutions are working to achieve this goal. It is recognised that this will require not only the development of new ideas and innovative approaches to discover new alleles and traits that underlie yield gains, but also dedicated breeding efforts to incorporate the traits into elite genetic backgrounds. Yield gains are not realized until they are delivered as finished cultivars into the hands of growers. Wheat breeding programmes driven by traditional, phenotypic, selection accumulate favourable alleles and develop cultivars that result in high and stable yield in the given target environment. In wheat breeding, the necessity to develop cultivars with very specific end use quality targets increases the tendency to limit breeding work to elite-by-elite crossing, which consequently leads to a narrowing of the genetic background. Except for disease resistance alleles, which are often specifically targeted for the development of new cultivars, relatively little effort is typically incurred to broaden the genetic diversity of breeding programmes in order to discover under-utilized or novel alleles for agronomic performance and yield. This project proposes to share germplasm with a range of yield potentials and test cross diverse wheat growing environments. By sharing genetic improvements between diverse breeding programmes, a foundation for the delivery of increased wheat yield in the form of new spring and winter wheat cultivars can be laid. Improvements in wheat yields can provide considerable return on investment for wheat producers. For example, a 5% increase in Canadian wheat production would have a farm gate value of approximately $300 million dollars ($CDN) for the Canadian economy.

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