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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » WHGQ » Research » Research Project #424575

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Wheat and Barley for Resistance to Biotic and Abiotic Stresses

Location: Wheat Health, Genetics, and Quality Research

Project Number: 2090-21000-030-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 22, 2013
End Date: Mar 6, 2018

Objective 1. Identify and develop wheat germplasm adapted to the Pacific Northwest of the United States with improved tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting, drought stress, cold temperatures, rusts, and soil-borne diseases. 1A. Identify sources of drought, cold, and disease tolerance by phenotyping subsets of the National Small Grains Collection as well as international and regional nurseries. 1B. Reduce production risk by developing germplasm with increased resistance to stripe and stem rust. 1C. Breeding club wheat and hard white winter wheat. Objective 2: Develop more efficient wheat and barley breeding approaches based on high throughput phenotyping and genotyping methods as well as genomic selection models. 2A. Identify and apply SNP markers for basic biology and MAS in wheat and barley. 2B. Develop high-throughput phenotyping methods for measuring freezing and drought tolerance. 2C. Develop statistical models for genotype response to environmental stress that improve the efficiency of selection and breeding. Objective 3: Investigate the mechanisms controlling drought and cold tolerance, pre-harvest sprouting, and rust resistance in wheat. 3A. Identify and combine physiological mechanisms that support yield under water stress in wheat including water-use efficiency, root architecture, and photosynthetic efficiency. 3B. Transcriptome analysis of post cold-acclimation stress response. 3C. Gene Expression profiling and biochemical pathway discovery for stripe rust resistance. 3D. Examine the role of the plant hormones ABA and GA in controlling seed dormancy, germination, and preharvest sprouting tolerance.

Objective 1. We will evaluate a total of 6,356 accessions for resistance to freezing injury, Fusarium crown rot, lesion nematodes, cyst nematodes, and stripe rust. We will conduct these evaluations using facilities at WSU, including controlled environments in the WSU Plant growth facility and at the Spillman Agronomy Farm. We will use the genomic information generated by the T-CAP for the existing core collection to link phenotypes to genotypes. We will also screen germplasm from U.S. regional nurseries. These selections will be genotyped to determine relationships and, on the theory that genetic control of resistance will be different among genetically diverse genotypes, traits from the most diverse will be introgressed into adapted cultivars, and germplasm adapted to various regions of the U.S. carrying unique new sources of resistance and molecular markers that can be used to select for these new resistance loci. Objective 2. Specific areas that are being targeted in SNP development include identification of SNP markers linked to stem and stripe rust resistance genes, climatic resilience and identification of SNP in wheat responsible for regional and market class adaptation. The current small grains single plant core collections are being evaluated for SNP linkages to drought, stripe, leaf and stem rust response. As new, verified markers are identified, they will be made available to the customers of the genotyping laboratory as applicable to the customers’ research and breeding objectives. Our goal is to transition away from single gene selection using SSR markers, genotyping by sequencing and incorporate genome selection utilizing SNPs through SNP-chip platforms. Objective 3. Pathways and mechanisms controlling drought and cold tolerance, pre-harvest sprouting, and rust resistance in wheat will be elucidated. Indirect selection for tolerance to freezing and to drought based on physiological traits associated with drought and freezing tolerance will be carried out as part of the selection process. Plant lines will be selected for higher water use efficiency, deeper roots, and higher photosynthetic efficiency to develop better grain yield and grain-filling under drought stress. Transcriptome analysis will be used to identify pathways and mechanisms responding to freezing stress and stripe rust. Key genes will be identified and their expression monitored under stress conditions, thereby identifying plant lines differing in their abilities to respond to parts of the freezing or infection process. Variation in sensitivity to plant hormones will be investigated as a means to control and improve seedling emergence and preharvest sprouting tolerance. These different abilities and sensitivities will be genetically combined, resulting in improved stress tolerance.