Overview of small grains program

The long-term goals of small grains breeding laboratory at Purdue Agronomy Department are:

  • Trait identification and genetics
  • Advancing the field of breeding science
  • Educating high-quality students and research trainees
  • Providing learning environments for undergraduate and graduate levels in genetics
  • Releasing and high yielding and Fusarium resistant soft red winter wheat germplasm
  • Diversifying crops in Indiana
  • Studying alternative farm income models

 

We aim to reach these goals by several objectives, which include the following activities:

We work extensively in the field environment to study the adaptation, yield stability, and variation among breeding lines. For yield testing, we often operate in Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) and sometimes in two other locations, one in Vincennes and one in Wanatah both in Indiana. Majority of our detailed phenotyping experiments is in ACRE.

 

 

Blake and Jason are planting yield trials in ACRE

Blake and Jason planting the nitrogen use efficiency trial of 2016-17.

 

 

RGB (top) and NDVI (bottom) images of wheat nursery, located within Precision Management Zone of ACRE in 2017 taken over five time points. The images were taken using a RedEdge® MicaSense sensor.

RGB (top) and NDVI (bottom) images of wheat nursery, located within Precision Management Zone of ACRE in 2017 taken over five time points. The images were taken using a RedEdge® MicaSense sensor.

 

We utilize the misting system and artificial inoculation to mimic a suitable environment for establishing of the disease causing pathogen. This enables us to rate the level of germplasm response to pathogen and record the Type I and Type II resistance against FHB disease. We also utilize greenhouse space for testing wheat experimental lines for Type II resistance against Fusarium head blight disease. The funding for the majority of field- and greenhouse-based operations is provided by the United States Wheat and Barley Scab Initiative (USWBSI).  

 

 Misting system to make a humid environment, promoting establishing of Fusarium head blight disease causing pathoge

Misting system to make a humid environment, promoting establishing of Fusarium head blight disease causing pathogen.

 

We utilize greenhouse space for wheat crossing (artificial hybridization) to create novel genetic variation. This is not GMO. This is utilizing the art of hybridization to accelerate what that could happen in nature in very long time. 

Wheat breeding research in the Eastern US is a well-structured collaborative environment. Advanced soft red winter wheat lines that are developed and tested successfully locally by each state (MO, IN, IL, KY, and OH), enter a collaborative testing named “5-State trials”. This allows breeders get to learn about the performance of their lines in other neighboring states. In addition, promising lines enter a larger collaborative testing named “Uniform Eastern Soft Red Winter Wheat Nursery (UESRWWN)”, where lines are evaluated in a wider geographical network.

We use molecular markers to assist us in breeding processes and selection procedures. The bulk of our molecular marker work are conducted collaboratively with the Eastern Regional Small Grains Genotyping Laboratory in Raleigh, North Carolina. The molecular markers we use include a) large effect loci controlling agronomic traits such as vernalization (Vrn) and height reducing (Rht) loci; and b) genome-scale single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers that are produced by SNP arrays or next-gen sequencing of genomic libraries. 

Although genomics tools have advanced and the pace of genotyping has accelerated exponentially, it remains difficult and expensive to obtain high-quality phenotypic data on thousands of plants in a field environment. The difficulty, inefficiency, and expense of collecting accurate, high-resolution, multi-temporal phenotypic data on wheat currently limit how efficiently phenotypic information can be matched with genomic data for trait dissection and marker-assisted breeding to identify and develop improved cultivars.

Hyperspectral aerial image taken from Purdue panel preliminary trial 2017 by remote sensing team led by Dr. Melba Crawford.

Hyperspectral aerial image taken from Purdue panel preliminary trial 2017 by remote sensing team led by Dr. Melba Crawford.

The core of our research activities is trait identification, characterization, and genetic analysis. To learn more about our trait identification and genetics research go to research tab.

 

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