Genetics and improvement of earliness in Canadian spring wheat

  • Term: 3 years, beginning in 2018
  • Funding Amount: $ 150,000
  • Lead Researcher(s): Dean Spaner (University of Alberta)
  • Funding Partners: Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC)

Project Description:

This project focuses on investigating the genetic basis of earliness in Canadian spring wheat and to develop early maturing, high yielding, high quality wheat varieties.

Spring wheat remains the most important crop in Western Canada, with high quality bread wheat (Canada western red spring or CWRS) accounting for about 2/3 of the total. A great deal of bread wheat grown in the northern prairies is downgraded because it becomes frost damaged before maturity. Later maturing wheat can also be more difficult to harvest. Hence, early maturity is a desired trait to be incorporated (without compromising high yield and quality) into Canadian spring wheat. This research builds on the previous and on-going work by the research team on the genetics of earliness in Canadian spring wheat including photoperiod and vernalization response of selected spring wheat.  

The main objective of this project is to screen uncharacterized Canadian spring wheat for major vernalization response genes (Vrn) genes; to develop new combinations of Vrn alleles in CWRS wheat; to map QTL for earliness per se and develop markers associated with earliness; and to develop mapping populations for future work. This project will provide useful information for breeding early maturing wheat, result in the development of germplasm and cultivars with desired combination of Vrn genes. Early maturity in wheat is important for timely harvest to avoid frost damage and other harvest and post-harvest problems. A better understanding of maturity will help ensure higher quality wheat yields for consumers and growers alike.

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