Research Project

Unraveling and stacking of grain protein genes in durum to keep pace with yield increases through breeding

Dr. Yuefeng Ruan. AAFC Swift Current

Start Date: April 1, 2021                 

End Date: January 15, 2024

AWC’s funding: $60,000  

As we strive to increase yield we must also maintain the concentration of grain protein in durum wheat, a major crop on the prairies. Grain protein content (GPC) is an important trait in durum cultivar development as a major determinant in the nutritional value of grain and end-use product quality. GPC is a quantitative trait negatively correlated with grain yield making breeding for the simultaneous improvement of the two traits difficult. Currently, the improvement in grain protein concentration is through chance recombination of alleles at different loci. Enrichment of favourable protein alleles is performed later in the breeding process through phenotyping using methods such as Near Infrared Reflectance to determine which lines benefitted from chance recombination. However, the opportunity exists to systematically stack favourable high protein alleles through marker-assisted breeding. To fill the gap for marker-assisted breeding of durum wheat varieties for high grain yield while elevating GPC requires: 1) the discovery of unknown GPC genes giving a protein boost in recent varieties such as AAC GoldNet; 2) breeder friendly markers providing knowledge about the genes governing protein concentration in parents and providing the ability to track their presence in breeding lines and future parents.

The objectives are:

1. Understand (unravel) genes involved in high yield and high protein Canadian germplasm such as AAC GoldNet

2. Recombining high GPC alleles with new markers to stack them for protein concentration to keep pace with increasing yield