Emily works on genomic selection models for end-use quality in the CIMMYT wheat breeding program.
Breeding for end-use quality in wheat presents unique challenges due the multi-faceted nature of producing wheat products. To make superior products, the grain must have good milling, rheological and baked product quality. Phenotypes (physical characteristics) for each of the facets are collected and considered when selecting superior quality wheat lines. Additionally, because there are many associated phenotypes, some of the phenotypes require large grain samples and some of the tests are intensive. Therefore, data on quality performance are not available until late in the breeding program and often not until after selections have already been made. Predicting the approximate end-use quality performance of wheat lines allows the breeder to consider quality when making selections.
Genomic selection is a method of predicating the phenotypes from the genetic markers (genotypes). All lines in the breeding population are genotyped, but only a random sample are phenotyped. A statistical model is created with the subpopulation data that uses genotypes as the independent variable and phenotypes as the response variable. Once the model is predicting phenotypes of the subsample with reasonable accuracy, it is applied to the entire breeding population to estimate the phenotypes of all lines.
Emily is working to improve the end-use quality genomic selection models developed by Dr. Sarah Battenfield (Battenfield et al., 2016) by testing the importance of other predictors. Environmental variance, year to year variation and certain genes known to influence quality are all being explored for inclusion in the genomic selection models.
Battenfield, S.D., Guzmán, C., Gaynor, R.C., Singh, R.P., Peña, R.J., Dreisigacker, S., Fritz, A.K., and Poland, J.A. (2016). Genomic Selection for Processing and End-Use Quality Traits in the CIMMYT Spring Bread Wheat Breeding Program. Plant Genome 9.