Breeding Assisted Genomics

New perspective paper on genomics and plant breeding is out in Current Opinion in Plant Biology.  Breeding assisted genomics is the concept of shifting effort for basic genomic studies from dedicated structured populations, to capturing the entire scope of genetic determinants in breeding lines. By doing this we can move towards not only furthering our understanding of functional genomics in plants, but also rapidly improving crops for increased food security, availability and nutrition.  

Improving wheat quality in partnership with General Mills

We are launching a new partnership with General Mills to apply genomic selection for targeted improvement of wheat quality.  In this project, we will implement focused approaches for characterizing and improving milling and baking qualities in wheat, combined with improving its nutritional quality.  Read more about this exciting new project.

From the DNA to the Field

What if there was a Netflix for wheat breeders? But, instead of suggesting movies, the algorithm “suggested” the best potential wheat varieties – generations before being planted in a test plot?

With Kansas Wheat Alliance funding, Dr. Jesse Poland and his team have created just that – a continuously evolving model built from current and historical wheat testing data. Armed with this knowledge, Kansas State University wheat breeders Allan Fritz in Manhattan and Guorong Zhang in Hays have a new tool to help them identify the lines with the best genetic potential to be the newest K-State wheat variety release. Read more

Remotely Capturing Wheat's Potential

It's invisible to the human eye, but measured in microseconds, and helping shape the future of Kansas wheat varieties. Sounds like science fiction, but research funded by the Kansas Wheat Commission is using near-infrared light measurements to dramatically speed up the process of selecting higher yielding, more heat and drought tolerant wheat lines.

Daljit Singh, K-State doctoral student in plant pathology, is part of a research team led by Dr. Jesse Poland. Using a point-and-shoot camera connected to a small unmanned aerial system (sUAS), commonly referred to as a drone, Singh is demonstrating how to save both time and money in selecting which experimental lines to advance to the next potential wheat variety. Read more at Morning Ag Clips

From Better Seeds to Beneficial Insects

Can a wasp feed the world? It can help. If its larvae are nurtured near millet fields where a devastating moth steals harvests from the field, they can grow to become predators that destroy the pests and save a crop. And that just might put more food in more mouths and earn money for struggling farmers in the world’s poorest countries.

“In some sense, the science, how to increase crop productivity, is the easier part,” said Gary Pierzynski, a Kansas State University researcher. “The challenge is how to get the people from these developing countries to do it.”

His work to that end, and that of others on the K-State campus, has brought $100 million in federal grants to the university to explore the varied and complicated questions of how to feed the world’s fast-growing population amid quickening climate change. Read more here in the Kansas City Star.