Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Managed environment facilities
by dr greg rebetzke Efforts arE undErway to assess traits with potential for improved water productivity and greater performance under drought for selection in australian wheat-breeding programs. the research stems from years of concerted pre-breeding that has incorporated specific water productivity traits from largely international wheat germplasm into wheat breeding populations for assessment under australian conditions. Importantly, the water productivity traits will provide value to all wheat-growing regions regardless of yield potential. this approach contrasts with drought-resistance traits, which focus on relatively improved yields under drought but do not allow for greater yields in more favourable seasons. the traits under assessment through the Managed Environment facility (MEf) research are aimed at making wheat: ¢ more resilient to intermittent drought and heat events during 4 Water productivity traits more crop per drop A range of water productivity traits are being pursued as part of the grdc-funded mef research ContInued page 6 critical stages of development; ¢ establish faster to maximise the conversion of stored water into biomass; ¢ more efficient at converting water into carbon reserves; and ¢ better at building and moving stored carbohydrate into the grain during hard finishes. By targeting water productivity traits, the MEf research will enable growers to benefit in both below-average and above- average seasons – with the greatest gains in average-to-better seasons where sporadic stresses prevent full development potential. the genetics underlying water productivity are complex with many genes potentially controlling each trait. the traits affect water productivity in different ways and at different times in the growing season. Many environmental factors can affect trait measurement so it is critical that assessment and validation of traits is done as close as possible to the realities of a grower’s paddock. the MEfs allow water productivity to be tested in large plots while carefully controlling the variable with the greatest effect on growth and yield – water. By carefully controlling water in the MEfs there is reduced need for repeating experiments over many sites and across many seasons in the hope of coinciding with a drought pattern representative of the region in which the MEf is located. a major goal of the water productivity research is to quantify the value of the different traits to grain yield across each of the australian growing regions (table 1). In this way only the most valuable and breeder-friendly traits will be pursued. ranking the relative value of the traits is important and time-consuming work that can only be achieved by controlling soil moisture conditions at the MEf sites. □ grdc research code csp00156 more information: Dr Greg Rebetzke, CSIRO Plant Industries, 02 6246 5153, email@example.com photo: CSIro A major goal of the Managed Environment Facilities research is to quantify the value of different water productivity traits to grain yield across each of the Australian growing regions.
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