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Identification of genetic markers for water use effecinecy in horticultural crops - HH3608TX

The main aim is to improve our understanding of the genetic control of water-use-efficiency (WUE) in horticultural crops. The project will provide to breeders molecular markers that will facilitate genetic improvement of WUE in a range or horticultural crops. Crop yield and quality are often limited by water availability, and, in many horticultural field crops, yield and quality gains make irrigation a practical and economic option. Irrigated land areas for vegetables and potatoes have risen steadily by 2.9-fold between 1982 and 2001, and the volume of water applied has risen by 4.7-fold [1]. However, the cost and availability of water for agriculture is likely to become increasingly restrictive in the coming years due to the recent implementation of the Water Bill (Feb 2003), and the resulting competition for water with industrial and domestic users. In addition, scenarios of climate change in the UK, due to greenhouse gas emissions [2], indicate that winters will become wetter, but that summers will become drier. By 2020 in the south and east it is predicted that average summer precipitation will decrease by 20%, and that year-to-year variability will mean that on average one-in-ten summers will be considered very dry, such as the summer of 1995. By 2080, summer rainfall may have decreased by up to 50%, and soil water by up to 40%. If these scenarios are realized there would be a massive impact on agriculture practices and the rural economy in the south and east, and without extra irrigation crop yields could only be maintained by the development of crop varieties suited to the drier summers. There is now a need to define the genetic variation in WUE for existing commercial cultivars and, making use of advances in crop genomics, to develop crop varieties that use water more efficiently whilst maintaining yield and quality. Preservation of water through more efficient use of water for irrigation will prevent loss of biodiversity due to reduced flow in rivers, and allow the growth of rural business and leisure activities that compete with horticulture for limited water resources. Development of varieties of rain-fed crops that conserve soil water, and improve yield where water is limiting, will sustain economic production as climate change leads to a decline in summer rainfall. This will ensure that horticultural production and rural communities are maintained into the future. This project has brought together the unique resources of HRI, ADAS, SCRI and the Universities of Canberra and Cambridge. Using the combined power of the genetic and genomic resources in both B. oleracea and Arabidopsis, we will firstly identify the genetic components of WUE, and assign genetic variation to regions of the genome by QTL analysis. QTLs will be resolved and validated, and molecular markers and candidate genes for WUE identified. We will also define the genetic diverstiy of WUE in both Brassica oleracea and potato germplasm collections, including commercial cultivars. Through technology transfer to breeders, growers and the scienctific community the project will deliver:1. assay systems for WUE that may be used in a range of horticultural crops2. a definition of genetic diversity of WUE in B. oleracea and potato to allow informed selection of varieties for specific environments and irrigation systems. 3. quantification of the genetic interaction between water- and nutrient-use-efficiency.4. molecular markers and germplasm suitable for marker assisted selection of B. oleracea varieties with improved WUE.5. candidate genes that may be used for improvement of WUE across many crop species.
01: Development of methodologies for measurement of WUE Irrigation regimes, and WUE assays will be developed for B. oleracea at both ADAS and Kirton, and for potato at Kirton. 02: Assessment of genetic diversity of WUE A range of B. oleracea and potato genotypes will be grown at ADAS and Kirton and WUE assessed for each genotype. 03: Identification and resolution of robust WUE QTLs WUE QTLs will be mapped in Arabidopsis and B. oleracea, and resolution improved with substitution lines, STAIR lines and NILs. 04: Validation of QTLs QTLs and candidate genes will be validated by allelic survey, and linkage disequilibrium analysis 05: Technology transfer Information on assay methods, genotypes and markers will be communicated to end users.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Identification of genetic markers for water-use efficiency in horticultural crops   (750k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2004

To: 2008

Cost: £993,771
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI, Horticulture Research International
Biotech-non GM              
Climate Change              
Natural Resource Use              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study