Agricultural scientists at the University of Sydney running trials at the I.A Watson Plant Breeding Institute, Narrabri, have developed a standard method to test how different wheat varieties cope with heat stress.
Such a standard testing regime will become increasingly important as climate change impacts wheat cultivation worldwide.
Lead author of a study into the process, Dr Rebecca Thistlethwaite from the Sydney Institute of Agriculture and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said: “While much has been published on wheat responses to high temperature, the techniques that are often used to assess complex plant traits lack relevance to farming conditions or rely too heavily on a single screening strategy.
“For this reason, a three-tiered screening approach was developed and validated over a three-year period to screen large numbers of materials, primarily in the field.”
Co-author Professor Richard Trethowan said: “Without reliable, repeatable and relevant ways of assessing plant response to high temperature we cannot provide farmers with the heat tolerant wheat cultivars so desperately needed in our increasingly variable environment.”
Co-author Associate Professor Daniel Tan said: “In many heat experiments, the flowering stage was thought to be the most heat sensitive stage in wheat. Our work has shown that the meiosis stage of early cell division is also extremely heat sensitive.”
The methodology was effective in identifying genotypes with high and repeatable heat tolerance and will be beneficial to plant breeders globally.
Source: University of Sydney