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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #386547

Research Project: Improved Plant Genetic Resources and Methodologies for Rangelands, Pastures, and Turf Landscapes in the Semiarid Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Breeding intermediate wheatgrass for grain production

Author
item BAJGAIN, PRABIN - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
item CRAIN, JARED - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item CATTANI, DOUGLAS - UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
item Larson, Steven
item Altendorf, Kayla
item ANDERSON, JAMES - UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
item CREWS, TIMOTHY - THE LAND INSTITUTE
item HU, YING - THE LAND INSTITUTE
item POLAND, JESSE - KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
item TURNER, KATHRYN - THE LAND INSTITUTE
item WESTERBERGH, ANNA - SWEDISH UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
item DEHAAN, LEE - THE LAND INSTITUTE

Submitted to: Plant Breeding Reviews
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/2022
Publication Date: 11/18/2022
Citation: Bajgain, P., Crain, J.L., Cattani, D.J., Larson, S.R., Altendorf, K.R., Anderson, J.A., Crews, T.E., Hu, Y., Poland, J.A., Turner, K., Westerbergh, A., DeHaan, L.R. 2022. Breeding intermediate wheatgrass for grain production. In: Goldman, I., editor. Plant Breeding Reviews. 1st Edition, Volume 46. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 119-217. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119874157.ch3.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119874157.ch3

Interpretive Summary: Intermediate wheatgrass [IWG; Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D. R. Dewey] is a perennial grass with the unique distinction of having been, for more than 30 years now, the target of active breeding for use as a grain crop for human consumption. Improving the grain production characteristics of a perennial forage grass to economically viable levels is a long-term endeavor that was undertaken because of the potential for profound benefits to farmers, human society, and the environment. Even before research as a perennial grain, IWG has had a history of improvement as a forage species and as one of wheat’s closest perennial relatives it has also been used to transfer desirable traits into annual wheat. Since initial work in the 1980s, long term breeding programs have been initiated in Kansas, Minnesota, and Utah (USA), Manitoba (Canada), and Uppsala (Sweden). Coupling advances in molecular technologies, many of these programs have harnessed the power of genomic selection and other cutting edge tools to rapidly improve IWG. This has resulted in estimated gains of up to 8% per year for spike yield and across eight breeding cycles grain yield has increased 9% per cycle, yet another 23 breeding cycles are estimated before IWG yields comparable to annual wheat. In addition to improving key domestication and agronomic traits, molecular research has provided a wealth of information about the genomic regions controlling trait expression through linkage mapping and genome wide association studies. These results suggest that leveraging new molecular and breeding tools could potentially lead to de nove domestication of new crops in approximately 40 years.

Technical Abstract: Intermediate wheatgrass [IWG; Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D. R. Dewey] is a perennial grass with the unique distinction of having been, for more than 30 years now, the target of active breeding for use as a grain crop for human consumption. Improving the grain production characteristics of a perennial forage grass to economically viable levels is a long-term endeavor that was undertaken because of the potential for profound benefits to farmers, human society, and the environment. Even before research as a perennial grain, IWG has had a history of improvement as a forage species and as one of wheat’s closest perennial relatives it has also been used to transfer desirable traits into annual wheat. Since initial work in the 1980s, long term breeding programs have been initiated in Kansas, Minnesota, and Utah (USA), Manitoba (Canada), and Uppsala (Sweden). Coupling advances in molecular technologies, many of these programs have harnessed the power of genomic selection and other cutting edge tools to rapidly improve IWG. This has resulted in estimated gains of up to 8% per year for spike yield and across eight breeding cycles grain yield has increased 9% per cycle, yet another 23 breeding cycles are estimated before IWG yields comparable to annual wheat. In addition to improving key domestication and agronomic traits, molecular research has provided a wealth of information about the genomic regions controlling trait expression through linkage mapping and genome wide association studies. These results suggest that leveraging new molecular and breeding tools could potentially lead to de nove domestication of new crops in approximately 40 years.