National consortium will support testing of wheat breed TAM 111

Scientist uses a pipette to transfer specimen to a small vial

Image: Texas A&M AgriLife

Texas A&M AgriLife Research’s wheat genetic and breeding programs will have genes in play when a multi-state, multi-agency project establishes a nationally coordinated consortium to advance wheat yields.

The Wheat Coordinated Agricultural Project, titled “Validation, characterization and deployment of QTL for grain yield components in wheat,” is a five-year project jointly funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and International Wheat Yield Partnership.

The first year of funding, $1.696 million, has been released with the following years of funding subject to release based upon continued progress in the grant research.

The primary focus of this consortium of public wheat breeders, molecular geneticists, high-throughput genotyping laboratories, database experts and educators will be on increasing wheat yields.

Developers of the project said surveys of state wheat-grower associations have repeatedly shown grain yield is the main priority for producers and the main determinant of their profits. Increases in kernel weight will also benefit grain millers, because this trait is highly correlated with increases in flour yield.

The project will be led by the University of California, Davis, and include most university-based and USDA-Agricultural Research Service public wheat breeding programs.

Contributing to the major effort to improve wheat yields dramatically over the next decade from AgriLife Research will be wheat geneticist Shuyu Liu in Amarillo, and wheat breeders Amir Ibrahim in College Station and Jackie Rudd in Amarillo.

“AgriLife Research’s TAM 111 is currently the most planted hard red winter wheat cultivar in the U.S., and its derivatives have been used in many wheat breeding programs,” Liu said.

The project will allow the TAM wheat breeding team to hire a doctoral student to follow through on genetic testing of TAM 111, he said. The student will deploy a variety of techniques to identify and study the functionality of candidate genes for the major quantitative trait loci, or QTL, identified in TAM 111 for higher yield.

“Since TAM 111 and its derivatives have been used in many wheat breeding programs as parents, the knowledge will be very helpful for wheat breeders,” Liu said.

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