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[Online] Crop Genetics and Breeding

Guest Editors-in-Chief [2018]
Wan, Jianmin, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Kropff, Martin J., Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo, Mexico
Executive Editor-in-Chief
Li, Hongjie, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Braun, Hans-Joachim, Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo, Mexico
Buckler, Ed, Cornell University, USA
Cao, Xiaofeng, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
Conner, Robert L., Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canada
Deng, Xingwang, Peking University, China
He, Zhonghu, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Li, Xinhai, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Li, Zhaohu, China Agricultural University, China
Mao, Long, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Murray, Timothy D., Washington State University, USA
Nguyen, Henry T., University of Missouri, USA
Qiu, Lijuan, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Thomson, Michael, Texas A&M University, USA
Tuberosa, Roberta, University of Bologna, Italy
Varshney, Rajeev, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, India
Wang, Daowen, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
Xu, Yunbi, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China
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The Potential Role of Powdery Mildew-Resistance Gene Pm40 in Chinese Wheat-Breeding Programs in the Post-Pm21 Era
Shengwen Tang, Yuting Hu, Shengfu Zhong, Peigao Luo
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 500-506.
Abstract   PDF (607KB)

Powdery mildew, which is caused by Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici (Bgt), is an important leaf disease that affects wheat yield. Powdery mildew-resistance (Pm) gene Pm21 was first transferred into wheat in the 1980s, by translocating the Heuchera villosa chromosome arm 6VS to the wheat chromosome arm 6AL (6VS6AL). Recently, new Bgt isolates that are virulent to Pm21 have been identified in some wheat fields, indicating that wheat breeders should be aware of the risk of deploying Pm21, although pathological details regarding these virulent isolates still remain to be discovered. Pm40 was identified and mapped on the wheat chromosome arm 7BS from several wheat lines developed from the progenies of a wild cross between wheat and Thinopyrum intermedium. Pm40 offers a broad spectrum of resistance to Bgt, which suggests that it is likely to provide potentially durable resistance. Cytological methods did not detect any large alien chromosomal segment in the wheat lines carrying Pm40. Lines with Pm40 and promising agronomical traits have been released by several wheat-breeding programs in the past several years. Therefore, we believe that Pm40 will play a role in powdery mildew-resistance wheat breeding after Pm21 resistance is overcome by Bgt isolates. In addition, both Pm21 and Pm40 were derived from alien species, suggesting that the resistance genes derived from alien species are potentially more durable or effective than those identified from wheat.

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Development of Perennial Wheat Through Hybridization Between Wheat and Wheatgrasses: A Review
Lei Cui, Yongkang Ren, Timothy D. Murray, Wenze Yan, Qing Guo, Yuqi Niu, Yu Sun, Hongjie Li
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 507-513.
Abstract   PDF (1744KB)

Wheatgrasses (Thinopyrum spp.), which are relatives of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), have a perennial growth habit and offer resistance to a diversity of biotic and abiotic stresses, making them useful in wheat improvement. Many of these desirable traits from Thinopyrum spp. have been used to develop wheat cultivars by introgression breeding. The perennial growth habit of wheatgrasses inherits as a complex quantitative trait that is controlled by many unknown genes. Previous studies have indicated that Thinopyrum spp. are able to hybridize with wheat and produce viable/stable amphiploids or partial amphiploids. Meanwhile, efforts have been made to develop perennial wheat by domestication of Thinopyrum spp. The most promising perennial wheat–Thinopyrum lines can be used as grain and/or forage crops, which combine the desirable traits of both parents. The wheat–Thinopyrum lines can adapt to diverse agricultural systems. This paper summarizes the development of perennial wheat based on Thinopyrum, and the genetic aspects, breeding methods, and perspectives of wheat–Thinopyrum hybrids.

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Developing Wheat for Improved Yield and Adaptation Under a Changing Climate: Optimization of a Few Key Genes
M.A.N. Nazim Ud Dowla, Ian Edwards, Graham O’Hara, Shahidul Islam, Wujun Ma
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 514-522.
Abstract   PDF (709KB)

Wheat grown under rain-fed conditions is often affected by drought worldwide. Future projections from a climate simulation model predict that the combined effects of increasing temperature and changing rainfall patterns will aggravate this drought scenario and may significantly reduce wheat yields unless appropriate varieties are adopted. Wheat is adapted to a wide range of environments due to the diversity in its phenology genes. Wheat phenology offers the opportunity to fight against drought by modifying crop developmental phases according to water availability in target environments. This review summarizes recent advances in wheat phenology research, including vernalization (Vrn), photoperiod (Ppd), and also dwarfing (Rht) genes. The alleles, haplotypes, and copy number variation identified for Vrn and Ppd genes respond differently in different climatic conditions, and thus could alter not only the development phases but also the yield. Compared with the model plant Arabidopsis, more phenology genes have not yet been identified in wheat; quantifying their effects in target environments would benefit the breeding of wheat for improved drought tolerance. Hence, there is scope to maximize yields in water-limited environments by deploying appropriate phenology gene combinations along with Rht genes and other important physiological traits that are associated with drought resistance.

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Genetic Manipulation of Non-Classic Oilseed Plants for Enhancement of Their Potential as a Biofactory for Triacylglycerol Production
Xiao-Yu Xu, Hong-Kun Yang, Surinder P. Singh, Peter J. Sharp, Qing Liu
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 523-533.
Abstract   PDF (1066KB)

Global demand for vegetable oil is anticipated to double by 2030. The current vegetable oil production platforms, including oil palm and temperate oilseeds, are unlikely to produce such an expansion. Therefore, the exploration of novel vegetable oil sources has become increasingly important in order to make up this future vegetable oil shortfall. Triacylglycerol (TAG), as the dominant form of vegetable oil, has recently attracted immense interest in terms of being produced in plant vegetative tissues via genetic engineering technologies. Multidiscipline-based ‘‘-omics” studies are increasingly enhancing our understanding of plant lipid biochemistry and metabolism. As a result, the identification of biochemical pathways and the annotation of key genes contributing to fatty acid biosynthesis and to lipid assembly and turnover have been effectively updated. In recent years, there has been a rapid development in the genetic enhancement of TAG accumulation in high-biomass plant vegetative tissues and oilseeds through the genetic manipulation of the key genes and regulators involved in TAG biosynthesis. In this review, current genetic engineering strategies ranging from single-gene manipulation to multigene stacking aimed at increasing plant biomass TAG accumulation are summarized. New directions and suggestions for plant oil production that may help to further alleviate the potential shortage of edible oil and biodiesel are discussed.

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Current Research Status of Heterodera glycines Resistance and Its Implication on Soybean Breeding
Guiping Yan, Richard Baidoo
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 534-541.
Abstract   PDF (983KB)

Heterodera glycines (i.e., soybean cyst nematode, SCN) is the most damaging nematode pest affecting soybean crop worldwide. This nematode is managed by means of crop rotation with selected resistant sources. With increasing reports of virulent SCN populations that are able to break the resistance within commonly used sources, there is an increasing need to find new sources of resistance or to broaden the resistance background. This review summarizes recent findings about the genes controlling SCN resistance in soybean, and about how these genes interact to confer resistance against SCN in soybean. It also provides an update on molecular mapping and molecular markers that can be used for the mass selection and differentiation of different resistance lines and cultivars in order to expedite conventional breeding programs. In-depth knowledge of SCN parasitism proteins and soybean resistance responses to the pathogen is critical for the diversification of resistant sources through gene modification, gene stacking, or incorporation of novel sources of resistance through backcrossing or genetic engineering.

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Aphanomyces euteiches: A Threat to Canadian Field Pea Production
Longfei Wu, Kan-Fa Chang, Robert L. Conner, Stephen Strelkov, Rudolph Fredua-Agyeman, Sheau-Fang Hwang, David Feindel
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 542-551.
Abstract   PDF (1885KB)

Field pea (Pisum sativum var. arvense L.) is an important legume crop around the world. It produces grains with high protein content and can improve the amount of available nitrogen in the soil. Aphanomyces root rot (ARR), caused by the soil-borne oomycete Aphanomyces euteiches Drechs. (A. euteiches), is a major threat to pea production in many pea-growing regions including Canada; it can cause severe root damage, wilting, and considerable yield losses under wet soil conditions. Traditional disease management strategies, such as crop rotations and seed treatments, cannot fully prevent ARR under conditions conducive for the disease, due to the longevity of the pathogen oospores, which can infect field pea plants at any growth stage. The development of pea cultivars with partial resistance or tolerance to ARR may be a promising approach to analyze the variability and physiologic specialization of A. euteiches in field pea and to improve the management of this disease. As such, the detection of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for resistance is essential to field pea-breeding programs. In this paper, the pathogenic characteristics of A. euteiches are reviewed along with various ARR management strategies and the QTL associated with partial resistance to ARR.

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Synthetic Hexaploid Wheat: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Aili Li, Dengcai Liu, Wuyun Yang, Masahiro Kishii, Long Mao
Engineering    2018, 4 (4): 552-558.
Abstract   PDF (408KB)

In recent years, wheat yield per hectare appears to have reached a plateau, leading to concerns for future food security with an increasing world population. Since its invention, synthetic hexaploid wheat (SHW) has been shown to be an effective genetic resource for transferring agronomically important genes from wild relatives to common wheat. It provides new sources for yield potential, drought tolerance, disease resistance, and nutrient-use efficiency when bred conventionally with modern wheat varieties. SHW is becoming more and more important for modern wheat breeding. Here, we review the current status of SHW generation, study, and application, with a particular focus on its contribution to wheat breeding. We also briefly introduce the most recent progress in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms for growth vigor in SHW. Advances in new technologies have made the complete wheat reference genome available, which offers a promising future for the study and applications of SHW in wheat improvement that are essential to meet global food demand.

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