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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Oklahoma and Central Plains Agricultural Research Center » Peanut and Small Grains Research Unit » Research » Research Project #445186

Research Project: Genetic Improvement for Resistance to Aphids and Major Diseases in Wheat, Barley, and Sorghum in the Great Plains

Location: Peanut and Small Grains Research Unit

Project Number: 3070-21000-010-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Mar 1, 2023
End Date: Feb 29, 2028

Objective 1. Identify and transfer novel sources of resistance to cereal aphids and important diseases of wheat, barley, and sorghum into locally adapted lines or germplasm to improve pest and disease resistance. Sub-objective 1A: Evaluate available germplasm resources (U.S. germplasm collections and accessible exotic resources) to identify new sources resistant to insect pests [Russian wheat aphid (RWA), greenbug (GB), bird cherry-oat aphid (BCOA), sugarcane aphid, and other important insect pests] in wheat, barley, sorghum, and related species, and transfer newly identified resistance sources into locally adapted lines. Sub-objective 1B: Evaluate wheat germplasm to identify new sources resistant to leaf rust and powdery mildew in wheat, and introgress newly identified genes into locally adapted cultivars. Sub-objective 1C: Develop high yielding and resistant germplasm and cultivars of wheat, barley, and sorghum. Objective 2. Analyze the genetic basis of pest resistance and other traits important for sustainable crop production. Sub-objective 2A: Develop and evaluate genetic populations to determine the genetic control of host resistance to GB, RWA, and BCOA in barley. Sub-objective 2B: Develop and evaluate genetic populations to determine levels of genetic diversity of host resistance and genes controlling the resistance to RWA, BCOA, and HGA in barley. Sub-objective 2C: Map genes conferring resistance to cereal aphids and develop genomic tools for gene cloning and marker-assisted selection of aphid resistance genes. Sub-objective 2D: Conduct functional genomics studies on host response to attack by GB and sugarcane aphids (SCA), leading to advanced understanding of the defense mechanisms in the hosts and discovery of genes and factors that affect host defense against insect pests (i.e., GB and SCA) in sorghum and related species. Sub-objective 2E: Discover novel leaf rust and powdery mildew resistance genes and develop genomic tools to facilitate their use in wheat cultivar development.

Wheat, barley and sorghum are major underpinnings of the agricultural economy of the U.S. Profitable, sustainable production of these commodities in the Great Plains and western U.S. is dependent on the control of aphid pests and diseases, specifically the Russian wheat aphid, greenbug, sugarcane aphid, bird-cherry oat aphid, leaf rust, and powdery mildew. Identification of natural resistance and use of genetically pest-resistant cultivars and hybrids in an integrated pest management program are the most economical and environmentally sound methods to reduce the negative economic impact of these damaging aphids and diseases. The overall goal of this project is to develop high performance wheat, barley, and sorghum with resistance to aphid pests and major diseases. To accomplish this goal, the project will search available germplasm collections to find new, effective sources of resistance to aphid pests and diseases that threaten production of those crops. The genetic diversity and resistance mechanisms will be analyzed, and resistance genes will be characterized and transferred into adapted genetic backgrounds. Plant genotyping will be conducted to map aphid and disease resistance genes to the crop chromosomes and to develop molecular markers to facilitate marker-assisted selection and map-based gene cloning. The research team of the project will work closely with collaborating plant breeding programs to obtain elite breeding lines to use as parents in backcrossing procedures to transfer aphid resistance and other value-added traits. The genetically improved germplasm and varieties will be field-tested for agronomic and quality performance prior to release. The project will provide testing and selecting support to assure that these desirable genes move through the various breeding programs on their way to producers via sharing and releasing of genetically improved cultivars and hybrids.