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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lincoln, Nebraska » Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research » Research » Research Project #445074

Research Project: Identification, Characterization, and Utilization of Priority Traits for the Genetic Improvement of Winter Wheat and Barley Germplasm Adapted to the Great Plains

Location: Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Research

Project Number: 3042-21000-035-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 3, 2023
End Date: May 2, 2028

Objective 1. Develop winter wheat and barley germplasm with Great Plains priority traits, including resistance to fungal and viral pathogens, wheat bacterial leaf streak, and insects, and durum germplasm with improved nutritional quality. Subobjective 1A: Characterize and map disease resistance genes for Fusarium head blight (FHB), stem rust (Sr), and wheat stem sawfly (WSS) in wheat. Subobjective 1B: Develop diagnostic and user-friendly molecular markers to assist FHB resistance introgression. Subobjective 1C: Integrate genes for resistance to FHB, stem rust, bacterial leaf streak (BLS), wheat stem sawfly, and nutritional end-use quality into high-yielding Great Plains winter wheat for germplasm development. Objective 2. Discover new genes for resistance to major diseases and insects in wheat and barley, and introgress them into adapted germplasm. Subobjective 2A: Identify and characterize novel genes for disease resistance from the relatives of wheat and barley. Subobjective 2B: Introduce the relative-derived novel genes for resistance to diseases into wheat and barley. Subobjective 2C: Develop unique genetic stocks and genomic resources useful in the wheat genome study and wheat breeding. Objective 3. Identify, characterize, and utilize host susceptibility genes for the management of wheat streak mosaic disease complex. Subobjective 3A: Examine the wheat response to synergistic interaction between wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) and Triticum mosaic virus (TriMV) in wheat. Subobjective 3B: Identify viral and host proteins involved in synergistic interaction between WSMV and TriMV in wheat. Subobjective 3C: Target the host factors involved in synergistic interaction between WSMV and TriMV by VIGS, RNAi, and CRISPR/Cas9. Subobjective 3D: Identify WSMV determinants involved in Wsm-resistance breaking. Subobjective 3E: Pyramid WSMV NIa-Pro transgene with natural resistance genes, Wsm1 and/or Wsm2. Objective 4. Coordinate the USDA-ARS Hard Winter Wheat Regional Nursery Program and the USDA-ARS African Winter Wheat Stem Rust Nursery. Subobjective 4A: Utilize the HWWRNP to determine the yield potential and stability of newly developed Great Plains Winter Wheat Germplasm with priority traits and distribute the germplasm to Great Plains wheat breeding programs. Subobjective 4B: Coordinate the USDA-ARS African Winter Wheat Stem Rust Nursery in Njoro, Kenya.

Wheat (Triticum spp.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) are important crops for human and animal consumption and the beverage industry. Wheat and barley production is continually threatened by bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases that have the potential to form epidemics of substantial economic impact with up to 25-30% annual yield losses. The main objective of this project is to develop elite hard winter wheat, soft and hard winter durum wheat, and barley germplasm with broad genetic diversity, improved disease resistance, and enhanced end-use quality and nutrition. We will utilize genomics-enabled breeding to incorporate priority traits into wheat and barley for germplasm development from native sources and their relatives. The new sources of resistance will be identified, characterized, and deployed in wheat against Fusarium head blight (FHB), stem rust, wheat streak mosaic, wheat bacterial leaf streak diseases and wheat stem sawfly, and in barley against FHB disease. Wheat susceptibility genes for wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV) will be identified and utilized for resistance against WSMV, which could prevent synergistic interaction with the Triticum mosaic virus. Ultimately, the adapted wheat and barley germplasm will be developed with natural pathogen resistance and enhanced protein and end-user functionality. The project comprises three integrated components of germplasm development and characterization, viral genetics and plant pathology, and wheat end-use quality. This project will be implemented on a scale of DNA molecules to chromosomes to field level to achieve the research goals using cytogenetics, genomics, molecular virology, and conventional breeding methodologies. Additionally, we will coordinate and manage the Hard Winter Wheat Regional Nursery program and the African Stem Rust Nurseries and evaluate the wheat germplasm and cultivars developed by the Great Plains public and private breeding programs for disease resistance and agronomic performance in multiple environments.