AmyCtrl: Marker-based selection for controlling pre-harvest sprouting due to untimely alpha-amylase activity in wheat

Petrischalen mit eingeweichten Weizenkörnern

Petri dishes with soaked wheat kernels for testing falling number stability

Aim of the project is the evaluation of marker-assisted selection in comparison to genome-wide prediction for tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting in unselected material of an advanced winter wheat breeding population.

Wheat cultivars for the milling industry have to meet several quality criteria. One of the quality descriptors for wheat is the falling number which is influenced by alpha-amylase activity at harvest. Low falling numbers can be caused by pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) inducing an untimely alpha-amylase activity. Hence, PHS influences trading specifications and, thus, the economical value of wheat. As PHS related traits are quantitatively inherited and dependent on environmental conditions, multi-environmental trials are required to assess PHS and the stability of falling numbers. Recently developed genome-based selection strategies might be advantageous for the labour intensive and time consuming selection on PHS tolerance in wheat breeding populations. Therefore, the goal of this project is the evaluation of marker-assisted selection (MAS) and genomic prediction (GP) strategies for tolerance to preharvest sprouting in unselected material of an advanced breeding population in wheat.

Evaluation of marker-based and genome-based selection strategies

In ongoing projects, several molecular markers were identified to be associated with falling number and PHS tolerance. The application of these markers for MAS and GP in breeding programs needs to be validated in unselected material derived from private breeders. Furthermore, the specificity of these markers in the different gene pools of the private breeders will be examined in this project. To improve the evaluation of marker-based selection strategies, new methods will be implemented to assess the falling number stability with provoking a decrease of falling numbers.

Project results - competitiveness

The SME-dominated plant breeding and seed sector in Germany and Austria will be the beneficiaries of AmyCtrl. Project results will contribute to maintain their competitiveness by speeding up the breeding process with new and efficient breeding tools. Nearly all of the transnational SME-User Committee are directly involved in project activities (field trials and data collection) and interact closely with the scientists. This guarantees that project results will gain direct and broad access into the SMEs. AmyCtrl affects not only the plant breeding sector: PHS tolerant wheat provides better quality to the whole value chain from the farmer, millers to the wheat processing industry. This allows enhanced export chances, especially in a market scenario with high supply of minor quality wheat. A predictable quality despite changeable weather conditions during harvest is of great importance for the milling industry. In general, with the view towards natural resources, the preservation of grain quality through genetic resistance treats natural resources with care. PHS means directly the loss of invested production goods.

Working together in pre-competitive projects

The plant breeding sector spends a high proportion of the budget in R&D. But the development of new techniques is often not feasible for a single company. The evaluation of PHS and the correlated falling number is labour intensive and time consuming. The breeding companies for small cereals are used to work together in pre-competitive projects, e.g. the search for new disease resistance genes coming from wild relatives. Therefore, the SME-User Committee will assist the dissemination activities such as project meetings, publications and a common website open for the project partners.

Project Information
Project leader: Dr. L. Hartl (Züchtungsforschung Weizen und Hafer/IPZ 2c)
Project management: Dr. Th. Albrecht

Duration: 2014 – 2016
Funding: Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie; Förderprogramm CORNET

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Tel.: 08161 71-3814
Fax: 08161 71-4085