Development of physiological markers for high throughput field screening of drought tolerant wheat lines

  • Term: 3 years, beginning in 2017

  • Funding Amount: $ 113,466

  • Lead Researcher(s): Karen Tanino, University of Saskatchewan

  • Funding Partners: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund (ADF)

Project Description

This project links biochemistry and physiology to whole plant phenotyping by identifying key biochemical markers for greater drought stress resistance in wheat, which will enable breeders to target specific responses and accelerate the selection of more drought adapted wheat varieties.

Climates are increasingly more extreme and less predictable and this places crops at significant risk, elevating the vulnerability to environmental stress like drought stress which is predicted to impact the prairie region. Therefore, breeding for drought resistance is essential to maintain crop production in unpredictable environmental conditions. The objectives include, developing a rapid non-destructive method to screen drought stress resistant wheat cultivars in a “field-to-lab” approach through hydroponic saline solutions followed by whole plant drought stress experiments; to develop a non-destructive methods using for root mass quantifications using synchrotron technology; to determine non-destructively the role of wax composition or quantity and specialized cells in drought stress resistance through synchrotron technology; to identify the biochemical or physiological marker which best distinguishes resistant from sensitive wheat genotypes, and to develop a simple, cost-effective, fast and high throughput digital root phenotyping and chemo-phenotyping (leaf composition) systems.

For future extension to the field, UV-Visible-NIR spectroscopy and spectral imaging will be investigated for quantifying glaucousness, wax characteristics, and leaf rolling. Leaf surface optical characteristics will be assessed for leaves displaying a range of these characteristics. Based on the comparative analysis between phytotron and field based study, a comprehensive plan will be developed for the field based high throughput phenotyping for screening wheat cultivars for drought tolerance.