Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Grain Quality and Structure Research » Research » Research Project #428979

Research Project: Impact of Environmental Variation on Genetic Expression (phenotype) of Hard Winter Wheat Quality Traits

Location: Grain Quality and Structure Research

2018 Annual Report

Objective 1: Integration of experimental hard winter wheat germplasm, containing variability in starch and protein quality, into commercial usage across a range of production and meteorological climates. [C1; PS 1.A] Sub-objective 1A: Correlate starch and protein physiochemical changes with environmental variability for key hard winter wheat cultivars. Sub-objective 1B: Correlate the falling number test to the glucose meter for the detection of sprout damage in wheat. Objective 2: Congressionally directed mission of service, and non-hypothesis driven, the USDA-ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory will identify, evaluate, and screen the intrinsic end-use quality of hard winter wheat progenies in the Great Plains growing region to enhance cultivar development. [C1; PS 1.A] Sub-objective 2A: Evaluate and screen the quality attributes of hard winter wheat experimental breeding lines and improve quality of existing hard winter wheat cultivars for end-product quality of world’s wheat-based staples, such as bread (whole wheat), tortillas, and noodles and other product analyses, including enzymatic analyses to enhance intrinsic wheat quality desired by customer markets. Sub-objective 2B: Coordinate and conduct essential hard winter wheat projects of national importance, such as Wheat Quality Council (WQC), Regional Performance Nursery (RPN) and Hard Winter Wheat Crop Quality Survey (HWWCQS) for improvement of U.S wheat quality.

Cereal grains are the foundation of nutrition worldwide with the United States being a perennial leader in hard winter wheat (HWW) production and quality. Thus, domestic and international customers come to expect high quality wheat from the Great Plains. That said, there continues to be a fierce international competition for the global HWW market. U.S. wheat breeders, researchers, quality laboratories and producers are under continuous demands to deliver quality HWW just to hold a competitive edge in both domestic and international markets. Genetic and environmental variability are critical factors that affect HWW grain composition (starch and protein) and end-product quality (pre-harvest sprouting). To meet these challenges this project is composed of a multidisciplinary team that set objectives to determine the effect of HWW protein and starch in response to critical abiotic stress events. The project plan will also include the congressionally-mandated activities of the USDA Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory (HWWQL). Due to recent reductions in funding, this Congressionally mandated laboratory utilizes in excess of 83% of the resources’ dedicated to this project. The HWWQL provides critical end-use quality data to the HWW growing region, and conducts three annual evaluation projects that include the Wheat Quality Council Evaluations, Regional Performance Nursery Program, and Hard Winter Wheat Crop Quality Survey. The data from these projects assist breeders, producers, millers, bakers, and other key industry components, in making pivotal decisions regarding breeding, agronomics, processing and marketing of experimental and commercial wheat varieties, as well as vital information regarding the environmental impact on established wheat cultivars.

Progress Report
Objective 1: Sub-objective 1A: A heat tent was employed to induce and subsequently determine the impact of heat stress on the protein and starch in 15 wheat cultivars and lines grown under control and heat tent conditions. Storage proteins were extracted and polymeric proteins measured on the wheat cultivars and lines. The ratio of total polymeric protein to monomeric protein is a measurement that correlates to dough strength. In five (33.3%) of the samples (WB-Cedar, Zenda, Larry, SY Monument, and Joe) a statistically significant (p<0.05) decrease in this ratio was observed, while no significant difference was observed in 10 (66.6%) of the samples. These data indicate that the majority of lines were able to abrogate the detrimental effects associated with increased temperature. Starch was isolated and analyzed from the aforementioned wheat samples. Statistical analysis has not been completed on total starch, amylose:amylopectin and starch size distribution (Sub-objective 1a), although preliminary results indicate little variation in the starch properties due to excessive heat conditions. Sub-objective 1B: Falling number (FN) has been the metric used to detect sprout damage since the early 1960’s, the wheat industry has expressed a need for methodology that is more precise and rapid. In the initial experiments the in-lab germination protocol cited in the project plans was used resulting in an R2 of 0.6. Additional modifications to the germination protocol (Clorox rinses to reduce bacterial and fungal growth) and revised statistical analysis (from linear to a polynomial model) were employed to improve the R2 to 0.9. (Sub-objective 1b). Results suggest that glucose is only one product of germination, fructose, sucrose and maltose are the other primary sugars produced during the germination process as evidenced by High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis. We are finding again, dependent on variety, HPLC analysis reveals these sugars are produced at different levels dependent on the stage of germination, and this may be responsible for variations in glucometer data. Additional research was conducted on 60 soft wheat samples (55 sprouted, 5 non-sprouted controls) provided by our collaborator at Oregon State University from the 2016 growing season. The statistics are being analyzed on these samples for FN and glucometer values. Preliminary results indicate that glucose levels in these soft field sprouted samples are lower than in lab sprouted HRWW samples when compared to FN. This may be due to field sprouting which cannot be controlled as well as working with a different class of wheat. We are continuing our HPLC evaluation as well as gathering alpha and beta amylase activity data. We are currently developing a manuscript as a proof of concept. This work will lead to a more rapid analysis of suspected sprout damaged wheat. Objective 2: The Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory (HWWQL) provides critical information to the plant breeding community, domestic and international markets on an annual basis (Sub-objective 2A). End-use quality evaluation of experimental wheat lines in the USDA Regional Performance Nurseries, as well as evaluation of advanced lines submitted to the Wheat Quality Council, are service/research activities critical to the continued success of the Hard Winter Wheat (HWW) industry (Sub-objective 2B). In total, over 2000 wheat samples were tested by the HWWQL, with over 40 quality characteristics reported for each sample submitted. Real-time wheat quality data were also provided to the wheat industry during the annual wheat harvest and updated on a weekly basis for potential buyers. Over 600 wheat samples were tested specifically for this wheat industry milling and baking survey.

1. ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas completed the annual Hard Winter Wheat Crop Quality Survey in which over 600 individual, and over 100 composite, Hard winter wheat (HWW) samples were evaluated for milling and baking quality. The resulting data was posted in real-time to a webpage managed by Plains Grain Inc. as the harvest progressed; the data was also used by U.S. Wheat Associates in their final annual report for domestic and international export customers.

Review Publications
Cobb, A.B., Wilson, G.T., Goad, C.L., Bean, S.R., Tesso, T.T., Wilson, J.D. 2017. Assessing the influence of farm fertility amendments, field management, and sorghum genotypes on soil microbial communities and grain quality. Applied Soil Ecology. 119:367-374.
Haley, S.D., Johnson, J.J., Peairs, F.B., Stromberger, J.A., Hudson-Arns, E.E., Seifert, S.A., Anderson, V.A., Rosenow, A.A., Bai, G., Chen, X., Bowden, R.L., Jin, Y., Kolmer, J.A., Chen, M., Seabourn, B.W. 2018. Registration of 'Langin' hard red winter wheat. Journal of Plant Registrations. 12:232-236.
Gupta, S., McMillan, E., Jackson, C.R., Desai, P., Porwollik, S., McClelland, M., Hiott, L.M., Humayoun, S.B., Frye, J.G. 2016. Draft genome sequence of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Widemarsh Strain CRJJGF_00058 (Phylum Gammaproteobacteria). Genome Announcements. 4(4):e00604-16.
Haley, S.D., Johnson, J.J., Peairs, F.B., Stromberger, J.A., Hudson-Arns, E.E., Seifert, S.A., Anderson, V.A., Bai, G., Chen, X., Bowden, R.L., Jin, Y., Kolmer, J.A., Chen, M., Seabourn, B.W. 2018. Registration of Avery hard red winter wheat. Journal of Plant Registrations. https://10.3198/jpr2017.11.0080crc.
Huggins, T., Mohammed, S., Sengodon, P., Ibrahim, A., Tilley, M., Hays, D. 2017. Changes in leaf epicuticular wax load and its effect on leaf temperature and physiological traits in wheat cultivars (Triticum aestivum L.) exposed to high temperatures during anthesis. Journal of Agronomy and Crop Science. 204:49-61.