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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Aberdeen, Idaho » Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research » Research » Research Project #444631

Research Project: Enhancing Barley and Oat Productivity, Quality, and Stress Resistance

Location: Small Grains and Potato Germplasm Research

Project Number: 2050-21000-038-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Feb 6, 2023
End Date: Feb 5, 2028

Objective 1: Exploit crop genetic resources to identify and characterize genetic variation contributing to barley and oat quality, disease resistance, and stability in the face of environmental variation. Sub-objective 1.A: Screen and map stripe rust resistance in wild barley accessions. Sub-objective 1.B: Characterize Fusarium head blight (FHB) resistance in barley and develop disease resistant germplasm. Sub-objective 1.C: Map oat genes conferring resistance to crown rust disease and develop resistant germplasm. Sub-objective 1.D: Identify and map the locations of genes contributing to oat response to environmental stress. Objective 2: Use gene editing technology to change barley candidate gene expression and determine the impact on seed composition (seed storage proteins, enzymes). Objective 3: Develop barley and oat germplasm, adapted to irrigated, dryland or organic cropping systems, with increased yield, better quality, and superior resistance to stress. Sub-objective 3.A: Develop No-Glycosidic Nitrile (No-GN) barley lines suitable for brewing and distilling. Sub-objective 3.B: Develop further improved winter food barley varieties. Sub-objective 3.C: Develop organic barley and oat lines.

Identification of desirable traits within wild or un-adapted barley and oat accessions and introgression into elite germplasm can create a basis for developing new cultivars (Objective 1). Genetic data for wild barley accessions from the National Small Crains Collection will be used to establish a molecular ID database (Sub-objective 1A). Association mapping methods will be used to identify QTL for Barley Stripe Rust resistance (Sub-objective 1A) and for oat seedling growth (emergence, growth per day, tillering) under moisture stress (Sub-objective 1D). Linkage analysis will be used to map barley resistance to Fusarium Head Blight (Sub-objective 1B) and to validate QTL contributing to oat grain quality (test weight, GC, kernel size distribution), and phenotypic stability (Sub-objective 1D). Both association and linkage methods will be used to map Oat Crown Rust resistance QTL (Sub-objective 1C), with digital imaging used to capture measures of disease progression. Superior selections may be evaluated for release as new varieties and will be used as parents in new crosses. Under the hypothesis that editing seed storage protein transcription factors will reduce barley seed protein content (Objective 2), Hvu_NAC genes will be CRISPR edited using guide RNAs targeting exons. The transgenic barley plants and the wild types will be evaluated for seed protein and starch content. Although it is possible that editing Hvu_NAC genes will not significantly reduce the seed protein content, this would also be informative of the genetic basis of barley seed protein regulation. This project will develop barley and oat germplasm, adapted to irrigated, dryland or organic cropping systems, with increased yield, better quality, and superior resistance to stress (Objective 3). Agronomic performance will be assessed on key traits such as yield, lodging resistance, drought tolerance, grain test weight, grain plumpness, and maturity. Elite lines will be tested for at least three years in replicated, small plot yield trials at multiple Idaho locations. Low/no glycosidic nitrile cultivars or elite lines for brewers and distillers (Sub-objective 3A) will be developed using marker-assisted selection of the No-GN allele from Full Pint. Selected lines will be evaluated for malting quality based on standards of the American Malting Barley Association. Food barley with a fall-planted growth habit and good winter survival will be improved for higher ß-glucan content and yield (Sub-objective 3B). Lines grown as fall-planted headrows that survive multiple winter tests will be considered winter types. Those with consistently good agronomic performance, and high ß-glucan content will be selected for entry into advanced trials. Barley and oat elite lines will be evaluated for performance under organic production (Sub-objective 3C). Twenty barley and 20 oat lines will be grown under three management regimes (conventional irrigated, conventional water stressed and organic irrigated) over four years to determine the lines best suited to organic production in the Intermountain West; and whether evaluation in an organic nursery provides unique information about line performance.