CORNET EFFICIENT WHEAT - Improving nitrogen efficiency in European winter wheat under drought stress

Persons in charge: Maren Livaja, Adelheid Castell
Duration: 01.10.2011 – 30.09.2013
Project partners: Bayerische Landesanstalt für Landwirtschaft (LfL), Vereinigung der Pflanzenzüchter und Saatgutkaufleute Österreichs, AGES - Agentur für Gesundheit und Ernährungssicherheit, GFP
Project coordination: Gemeinschaft zur Förderung der privaten deutschen Pflanzenzüchtung (GFP)
Funding: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology

Project description:

The development of cultivars with high nitrogen use efficiency (NUE), high yield stability and high baking quality even under unlike weather conditions is one challenge regarding the increasing risk for extreme weather events like heat and persistent drought in wide regions of central and eastern Europe.

EFFICIENT WHEAT is planned as a collective research project of Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES), TU Muenchen Chair Plant Breeding (TUM), Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture (LfL), KWS Lochow GmbH, Lantmännen SW Seed GmbH, Saatzucht Streng-Engelen GmbH & Co. KG, Secobra Saatzucht GmbH, Saatzucht Donau GesmbH & Co.KG, and Saatzucht Edelhof. As the problem of drought stress is even higher in Hungary, cooperation with the Cereal Research Non-profit Company (CRC) in Szeged will be made. The expected outcome of the project is to accelerate wheat breeding progress by improving existing breeding material with respect to drought tolerance and NUE, without significant yield and quality depression. In detail, we focus on the identification of cultivars with high yield and quality potential carrying genes associated with higher NUE under drought stress, establishing of screening techniques for nitrogen associated traits, and the development of markers for marker-assisted selection (MAS).

Three different working packages will be conducted: 1. phenotypic characterization of 30 European elite winter wheat varieties in field trials at 11 (climatic) different locations in Germany, Austria, and Hungary; 2. analyses of indirect and direct baking quality as well as 3. association mapping of QTL for improved NUE under drought stress conditions.

The project strategy is to examine if existing high yielding European cultivars carry valuable alleles for enhanced NUE which become effective under drought stress. The core set of 30 winter wheat genotypes bred in Austria, France, Germany, Hungary and UK represents the elite breeding material of different European climates. These genotypes will grow on field plots with natural water respectively supplementary irrigation on sandy soils. In addition to the field trials greenhouse experiments will be conducted under controlled conditions.

As basis for the aimed genetic association mapping, a combination of morpho-physiological trait evaluation and laboratory analyses concerning candidate genes will be performed together with an estimation of N-related parameters in wheat straw and grain and in the soil. Selected candidate genes will be analysed to explore their contribution to NUE. Identified polymorphisms in candidate genes will be used to develop PCR based markers suitable for MAS and genetic mapping. During analysis of molecular markers, a suitable marker density is realized through a combination of SSR markers (Simple Sequence Repeats), SNP markers (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) with the chip based DArTs approach (Diversity Arrays Technology). Here we will investigate the marker haplotypes of known QTLs within a set of winter wheat genotypes in order to identify useful haplotypes for European breeding programs.