Optimization of root development and photosynthesis parameters for yield increase/protection
Term: 3 years, beginning in 2017
Funding Amount: $ 199,496
Lead Researcher(s): Gopalan Selvaraj (National Research Council, Canada)
Funding Partners: Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture - Agriculture Development Fund (ADF), Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC).
This project builds on the research conducted at the National Research Council (NRC) that involves the application of physiology, genetics and genomics to identify pertinent genomic regions/genes/markers for traits that impact yield protection under drought stress. The focus will be on roots and stress tolerant photosynthesis in durum, that opens an opportunity to design a crop based on physiological traits, while the genetic underpinnings of these spatially distinct and functionally connected traits are clarified.
Conventional breeding tends to miss out on best root characteristics because it is a challenge to select for them specifically. However validated markers are essential for including phenomenological factors such as root traits (and photosynthesis efficiency) in conscious selections. This project addresses this gap by focusing on roots for water (and nutrient) acquisition and stress-tolerant photosynthesis. Saskatchewan being the largest exporter of durum in global trade, providing a genetic solution to issues of unpredictable moisture stress factors will be a new stepping stone toward yield protection and improvement and it is expected to cross a yield barrier.
The objectives are to derive molecular markers for optimal root development characteristics that are pertinent for grain productivity, to identify the genetic basis of sustained photosynthesis when plants experience drought/heat stress, to develop durum prototypes with advantageous root development and stress resistant photosynthesis and to identify gene targets for future manipulations by maintaining selected grain quality aspects. The genetic resources and knowledge generated in this study will be incremental for not only durum improvement but will also serve at the very minimum as a reference for bread wheat improvement. Any effort to improve wheat farming in Saskatchewan also affords other benefits in terms of crop rotations.