Wheat breeding science offers greater yields
Senior plant breeder Phil Howell, Ph.D., says: "Based on early-stage trials, we're confident that the performance gains and level of potentially valuable variation observed, through this novel step of re-synthesising the original wheat plant, points to a major transformation in the wheat improvement process. Yield increases of up to 30 percent have been produced in early field trials, despite the past few years being cold, wet seasons where lack of sunlight depressed yield.
"The plan is to use this material in screening experiments to provide breeders with material adapted to the challenges of the future, with restrictions on pesticides and fertilisers coupled with projected climate change, with varieties on-farm by 2019 at the earliest," says Howell.
NIAB's work on developing its own SHWs, based upon wild goat-grass sources that have not been previously exploited, forms part of the BBSRC's £7M investment into public sector pre-breeding in wheat (http://www.wheatisp.org/).