Marker Assisted Selection in Wheat - HOME CSREES-USDA Marker Assisted Selection in Wheat

The IFAFS project, "Bringing Genomics to the Wheat Fields"

During 2001 twelve wheat-breeding and research programs across the US joined to create a consortium aimed at developing a project on marker assisted selection (MAS) in wheat. The project received funding from the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) through a grant program called Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) The overall goal of this project was to transfer new developments in wheat genomics and biotechnology to wheat production. The project started in September 2001, and ended in September 2005.

The main activities of the project were the production of new wheat lines through backcross breeding, the development of new molecular markers and protocols for MAS, which were made public through presentations in scientific meetings, papers in peer reviewed journals and this web site, and an intense teaching component, that included field days for wheat growers, classes and presentations.

Backcross breeding

Breeders introduced valuable genes coding for quality and disease resistance traits into selected wheat cultivar and lines using a backcross breeding strategy, and monitoring every generation with molecular markers in order to select the desired progeny.

The backcross process starts with the cross of a recurrent parent, a selected wheat line, for example a cultivar growers are using, with a donor line, which carries a gene of interest. The F1 progeny is then backcrossed to the recurrent parent, and a progeny, called BC1, is obtained. This progeny contains plants with and without the gene of interest. Molecular markers that "tag" the gene are used to separate one type of plants from the other. The advantage of using molecular markers is that for some traits they are easier and faster to score than the required phenotype. Only plants carrying the desired gene, detected by the right combination of molecular markers, are kept and backcrossed again with the recurrent parent. This process is repeated four or five times, up to BC5 or BC6. This way, the resulting progeny is genetically very similar to the recurrent parent and contains the valuable gene from the donor. A link on the right panel shows some details of the backcrossing programs.

Germplasm, papers, presentations and teaching

The links on the right list the papers that collaborators published during this project, the presentations in meetings, the students and postdocss that participated, as well as the list of released germplasms.