Filling Gaps in Wheat Cultivar Development with Translational Research

  • Term: 4 years, beginning in 2015

  • Funding amount: $1,275,096

  • Lead researcher(s): Curtis Pozniak (U of S), Dr. Richard Cuthbert (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

  • Funding partners for CTAG2: Genome Canada, Western Grains Research Foundation, Alberta Wheat Commission, Viterra, Secan and the University of Guelph, DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience and International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, Manitoba Agriculture, and Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund

Project Description

Wheat accounts for a staggering 20% of all calories consumed throughout the world. As global population grows, so too does its dependence on wheat. Canada is a major exporter of wheat with more than $4.5 billion in annual sales. When value-added processing is factored in, wheat adds more than $11 billion each year to the Canadian economy. Producers are demanding modern varieties with higher yields to ensure wheat remains competitive relative to other crops.

Sask Wheat is funding a four-year research project that aims to translate genomic technologies to wheat breeding programs. Funding will support the development and deployment of novel genomic technologies to improve selection of wheat cultivars adapted to the prairie environment. Specifically, researchers are aiming to develop a new DNA testing platform that will allow wheat breeders to simultaneously assess 1000’s of DNA markers on early generation breeding materials and therefore improve breeding efficiency. In combination with extensive field trialing, these DNA markers will be “trained” to predict agronomic performance, resistance to disease (e.g. fusarium head blight) and insects and end-use quality (e.g. gluten strength, reducing fusarium produced mycotoxins) of wheat breeding lines such that efficiency of field testing is greatly improved.

The Sask Wheat funded project aligns closely with an $8.8 M Genome Canada/WGRF funded project, Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics (CTAG2) co-led by Dr. Pozniak. The CTAG2 project will focus on generating a wheat genome sequence to fully characterize genetic variation in wheat, which will be foundational to developing the DNA testing platform. Investment by Sask Wheat was an important source of co-funding to leverage funding for the CTAG2 project.