Stage 3: Proof of Concept
Novel research findings are validated to ensure that they can contribute to genetic gains in elite varieties. This is achieved through crossing and yield trialing at a range of international target environments.
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Agriculture and Climate Change and Resilience
Agriculture and Climate Change and ResilienceSEE LESS
There is an urgency to grow more food on less land with potentially fewer inputs, and in a more sustainable way, to support the rising demand for nutritious food from a burgeoning population. Wheat is a staple food for billions of resource-poor people, so increasing its genetic yield potential is an effective way to contribute to their food security. Furthermore, new varieties are easily adopted even by the poorest farmers, with strong likelihood of significant gains in net income.
The solution involves these main steps; i) designing crosses to combine promising yield-boosting traits; ii) identifying the best sources of those traits among diverse genetic resources using field and laboratory techniques; iii) validating new trait combinations through crossing and measuring their impact on crop performance across target environments; and iv) sharing the new lines and breeding technologies with breeding programs globally.
Superior wheat lines are distributed to ~100 collaborators from >50 countries each year, including national wheat programs and private seed companies. The material can be released directly, crossed with elite local varieties to broaden the genetic base of locally adapted material, and used in research to further understand and boost yield potential, therefore serving a range of stakeholder needs. The work has also provided a valuable training platform for students of crop improvement up to doctoral level.
Mission and Vision
Many good ideas for improving crops exist but breeding programs typically lack resources to test new approaches. This creates a bottleneck that uncouples advances in plant science from crop improvement so many valuable technologies remain on the shelf. This innovation was designed to select the most promising ideas from plant experts and translate them into new higher yielding lines. Beneficiaries are breeders and ultimately resource poor farmers and consumers who eat wheat as a staple food.
For novel technologies to be applied in crop improvement, proofs-of-concept must be demonstrated in a breeding context. This necessarily involves translational research via pre-breeding that demonstrates genetic gains from new innovations across an appropriate range of target environments, and in lines that also contain the component agronomic traits essential to make new cultivars marketable. The IWYP Hub provides an appropriate platform for testing and translating novel traits into elite wheat parents, and most importantly facilitates the accumulation of traits that would not be possible in individual research projects. Best lines are subsequently made available and validated by both public and private breeders through a network of partners and testing sites worldwide (IWIN, CIMMYT). These nurseries not only deliver novel, genetically diverse germplasm to wheat breeders and crop researchers globally, but also contribute significant genetic gains in spring wheat associated with new genes for yield potential and stress tolerance.
The IWYP Hub brings together ideas from an international network of plant experts who conduct research on different aspects of crop science, including photosynthesis, crop architecture, mobilization of resources to grain, crop development, plant growth regulators & genomics. This generates a synergy of ideas and research technologies for application in physiological pre-breeding. The best new lines yield ~7% over current CIMMYT elite lines averaged across international sites. The results also deliver a proof of concept –contrary to conventional wisdom- that use of relatively unadapted germplasm can deliver fast results through crossing and selection for specific physiological traits. The IWYP Hub also benefits from access to the World Wheat Collection and the International Wheat Improvement Network, both coordinated by CIMMYT, permitting genetic gains to be achieved in lines that encompass other economically important traits.
Planned Goals and Milestones
New innovations in the pipeline include: Genomic selection to increase breeding efficiency and accumulation of complex traits; Speed breeding to accelerate deployment when crossing parents that encompass both novel yield potential traits and the necessary disease resistance genes; New traits discovered through remote sensing as well as detailed dissection of growth patterns; New combinations of traits that simultaneously boost overall plant vigor as well as seed growth to drive yields higher.