Next generation soybean breeding
The K-State soybean breeding program has teamed up with the spectral analysis lab of Dr. Kevin Price, professor of agronomy, to explore ways to increase the efficiency of the soybean breeding line selection process.
The most time-consuming and expensive aspect of our breeding program at K-State is in harvesting the many thousands of early generation lines, weighing the seed, and determining yield. The early screening stage of the breeding process also takes up a lot of acreage.
If we can find a way to separate out 50 percent or more of the very-low-yielding lines without the need to combine harvest and weigh the seed, that would reduce the time and cost of our breeding program considerably.
click image to zoomKevin Price, K-State Research and ExtensionThe image above illustrates the difference between what a person sees when looking at a soybean plant (left), and one of the ways spectral analysis can present the same plant. In this case, the plant on the right is presented using NDVI readings. NDVI is a ratio: (Near Infrared – Red)/(Near Infrared + Red). Spectral analysis is being used in the Agronomy Department at K-State to determine the level of photosynthetic activity of vegetation in many different situations. We decided to work with Dr. Price’s spectral analysis team to try using this new technology in our soybean breeding nursery. The goal was to find out how effective this technology might be in predicting yields, stress tolerance, and disease resistance as a way to eliminate unpromising lines early in the process.
To do this, we used a ground-based spectroradiometer to gather spectral data at various stages of growth, and correlated the results with actual yield data. We have spent the last two years trying to determine exactly what data to collect and how often, and whether any of the spectral regions being measured would have a good correlation to yield. Spectral analysis doesn’t have to be accurate enough to separate lines with a yield difference of just 1 or 2 bushels per acre. If it can separate lines with a yield difference of 5 to 10 bushels, that would be a great help in the preliminary stages of line evaluation.
With financial support from the Kansas Soybean Commission, during the past two years, we have been testing this technology. A ground-based spectroradiometer has been gathering wavelength data in both the visible and infrared spectrums, resulting in thousands of pieces of data on each genotype.
click image to zoom We have a “training” population of different soybean varieties we are using to develop models from the spectral data we have collected to help us predict the phenotype, or performance of a variety. We intentionally selected varieties known to have a large difference in yield potential for this initial testing phase.
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