Canadian Wheat-NAM (CAN-NAM): Capturing genetic variation for Canadian wheat improvement

  • Term: Five years, beginning in 2016

  • Funding Amount: $230,000

  • Lead Researcher(s): Andrew Sharpe (NRC)

  • Funding Partners: Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association (MWBGA), Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF), Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)

Project Description

This research builds on the application of a powerful combination of advanced genomics approaches and a newly available Can-NAM resource, allowing detection of novel alleles with high resolution and high-precision, thus enabling the rapid delivery of outcomes to the breeding program and facilitating cultivar release. Central to this project is the utilization of our unique Can-NAM population, which combines high genetic diversity and high levels of recombination events, with a genome wide approach, to characterize novel rust and FHB alleles for Canadian wheat improvement.

With consultation from breeders, many important traits for local producers, including agronomics traits, quality, and disease and pest resistance, drought and heat tolerance have been introduced into the Can-NAM population. As phenotyping of this large population is costly, here, this project will focus on some high impact traits for local producers. The researchers will phenotype seedling rust resistant genes (leaf, stripe and stem) at NRC-Saskatoon, with multiple races and adult plant leaf rust resistance (APR) in the field in Year 3 and Year 4 of this project in Manitoba. Field phenotyping focusing only on leaf rust will be carried out, due to the limited capacity of disease nursery field sites to screen such a large population. The population is also a rich resource for novel stripe rust and stem rust resistant genes and with the successful model from the leaf rust test, the researchers hope that more phenotyping efforts on stripe and stem rust will be promoted in the Can-NAM by potential public and private partners. This would identify novel stripe and stem rust resistant genes to protect Canadian wheat production.

In addition to rust, fusarium head blight (FHB) is another major disease threatening the wheat production in the Prairie region. Compared to rusts, FHB is a more complicated and challenging issue for wheat production. It is controlled by multiple genes with minor effects and also affected by the interaction of genotype and environment. Therefore, here, the researchers will phenotype FHB resistance from the Can-NAM population in years 3, 4 of this project. FHB response will be scored by growing replicated trials at sites in Manitoba for Type I and Type III resistance. For Type I resistance, FHB incidence and severity will be scored. At the same time, the anthesis dates and plant heights will be phenotyped, due to spurious correlations of growth stage and or plant height with FHB resistance. Type III resistance (resistance to DON or mycotoxin accumulation) will be determined using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method to quantify the toxins. Due to the large size of the Can-NAM population, only targeted sub-populations will be phenotyped for resistance to DON or mycotoxin accumulation.