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The incorporation of important traits underlying sustainable development of the oat crop through combining conventional phenotypic selection with molecular marker technologies - LK0954

Description
Sustainable arable farming requires new crops and options for the sake of sustainable rural development, for the prudent use of natural resources, for the reduction of emissions of nitrates, pesticides and plant growth regulators in the environment and in our food, and as shown by the GM Farm-Scale results, are friendly to wildlife and fit in with acceptable farming systems. There is a need for a profitable break crop (in addition to oilseed rape) meeting the needs of farmers’ (eg through enhancing organic systems and providing feed for livestock), industry (see Section 10) and society (eg through minimising pollution, enhancing biodiversity and developing a more diverse (`mosaic`) landscape). In this respect, oats deliver major economic and environmental benefits but relatively little work has as yet been generally undertaken on the development of rapid and precise methods of breeding based on molecular markers. Research is needed to improve the economic competitiveness, resistance to diseases and quality of oats, to enhance end-use characteristics to meet consumer requirements, with particular focus on meeting the needs of the milling and poultry and to enhance economic prosperity. Plant breeding is a key tool for changing scenarios leading to stable and sustainable rural development

9.2 Aim of the project
Investment from Industry and Government is needed to incorporate important traits underlying sustainable development of the oat crop through combining conventional phenotypic selection and molecular marker technologies, in order to allow more effective selection for key traits within the context of a real breeding programme and diverse production systems. The project will address a number of important issues (see section 9 under scientific justification).
Objective
11 Objective(s)
The overall objective of this proposal is to incorporate important traits underlying sustainable development of the oat crop through combining 'conventional' phenotypic selection with molecular marker technologies. The individual objectives are
1. To develop new molecular markers, UK mapping populations and contrasting bulk segregants for use in marker-assisted selection (MAS) of important traits. New molecular markers offer the exciting prospect of targeted, rapid and precise selection for important end-use characters in oats. The scientific hypothesis is that efficiency of selection will be greatly improved by using molecular marker selection for difficult-to-measure traits within a real breeding programme.
2. Identify, incorporate, select and evaluate important traits for sustainable production and human consumption. Traits of priority to farmers include consistent yield, low inputs, and ease of management including harvestability. In Scotland, winter-hardiness is also important. Traits of priority to millers include high resistance to lodging and resistance to disease in order to reduce the need for PGRs and pesticides, high groat content and low screenings. The scientific hypothesis is that, using phenotypic and in the later stages, marker-assisted selection, rare lodging resistant recombinants can be found which do not contain adverse traits such as low kernel content and poor resistance to mildew, and that this is the best route to obtaining grain free of PGR and pesticide residues, whilst still delivering economic acceptability and milling quality.
3. To identify, incorporate, select and evaluate important traits for sustainable production and premium livestock feed. Traits of high priority for both farmers and poultry producers are economic competitiveness, high oil/ energy and maintained amino-acid content. The scientific hypotheses are that photosynthetic source is not yet limiting in oats, so that there is no inherent physiological constraint to increasing yield and oil content, that there are no physiological barriers to incorporating quality traits such as low husk lignin and that efficiency of selection will be greatly improved by combining phenotypic and molecular marker selection within a successful breeding programme.
4. To identify, incorporate, select and evaluate important traits for organic production. Examples of traits of high priority for organic farmers are good competitive ability against weeds, resistance to pests and foliar/ seed-borne diseases; an appropriate harvest index (since straw is an important component of a mixed farming system); good combining ability in variety and species mixtures (for instance, when undersown by clover). The scientific hypothesis is that selection of varieties and lines in organic systems with good intra- and inter-specific ecological combining abilities will buffer against those (a)biotic variables that contribute to instability in the performance of oats in organic systems.

The main effort will be on winter oats, with some attention to spring oats in view of the continuing interest in this crop (for which there is a recommended list) in terms of cultivation in less favoured areas of Britain, including Scotland, and for feeding livestock particularly in organic systems with positive effects on avian and rare weed biodiversity in grassland-dominated areas.
11.1 Scientific objective(s)
1.1 Development of new markers.
1.2 Development and analysis of UK mapping populations and contrasting bulk segregants.
2.1 Identification, incorporation and selection of important traits in husked oats for sustainable production and human consumption.
2.2 Assessment of important traits in husked oats for sustainable production and human consumption.
3.1 Identification, incorporation and selection of important traits in naked oats for sustainable production and feed for poultry.
3.2 Assessment of important traits in naked oats for sustainable production and feed for poultry.
3.3 Understand important determinants in husked oats for premium feed for poultry.
3.4 Selection for premium feed quality in husked oats for poultry.
4. Assessment of traits important in organic production.
11.2 Interdependence of objectives
The efficiency of selection using marker-assisted selection within 2, 3 and 4 will depend on associations of markers with traits of interest identified in 1. Since yield, agronomic and disease resistance characters are needed for oats for human and livestock use, there will be strong benefits to different sectoral interests in being together in the same LINK project.

Chances of achieving objectives
The likelihood of achieving objectives is high. The programme of work is ambitious but achievable. The team led by Dr John Valentine has had excellent success in breeding radically different oat varieties (eg 16 husked oat varieties since 1982 including Image, Gerald and Millennium and the introduction of 9 naked and 2 dwarf varieties), in achieving new scenarios which increase the competitiveness of the UK and in working with Industry (as a result of which Dr Valentine was awarded Personal Promotion in 2001). Roslin, ADAS and industrial partners were very important to the success of AFENO and other projects. The EFRC team has a strong track record in the successful delivery of research projects that apply fundamental ecological understanding with organic production.
Project Documents
• ABS - Abstract : The incorporation of important traits underlying sustainable development of the oat crop through combining 'conventional' phenotypic selection with molecular marker technologies (‘OatLink’)   (104k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2009

Cost: £2,211,400
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Institute of Grassland and Environment Research (IGER)
Keywords
Agri-Environment              
Agri-Industrial              
Arable Farming              
Biomass Crops              
Crops              
Environment              
Farming              
LINK Programme              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Technology              
Technology Transfer              
Weed Control              
Fields of Study
Arable Crops