South Asia, which is already home to more than one-fifth of the world's population and rapidly growing, will require wheat yields to rise annually by 2.0–2.5% to meet demand and maintain food security. To address these challenges, a wheat phenotyping network was established in the region in 2009 to support national breeding programs by applying practical phenotyping techniques to increase selection success using a cooperative multi-location testing network. A number of trials have been grown to introduce new genetic diversity for stress adaptive traits, to establish their genetic bases, and to test a new generation of lines developed using physiological approaches. The 17th Semi-Arid Wheat Yield Trial (SAWYT), consisting of a group of 50 elite spring bread wheat advanced lines, bred in Mexico using both conventional (CON) and physiological trait (PT) approaches, was grown for two seasons 2009/10 and 2010/11. Data showed that PT lines gave superior yields overall, associated with higher grain weight, and with cooler vegetative and grain-filling canopy temperatures (CT); the CT trait is considered indicative of increased gas exchange, a likely consequence in these environments of superior vascular capacity including deeper rooting to access subsoil water. Local check genotypes, which were generally well adapted to the stressed environments tended to be 3–5 days earlier to heading than CIMMYT cultivars. Results demonstrate the potential to integrate physiological breeding approaches into genetic improvement for the region, particularly as future wheat production will take place under increasing water scarcity.
A. Pask, A. Joshi, Y. Manes
Field Crops Research