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SUSTAIN
Developing wheat with enhanced nitrogen use efficiency towards a sustainable system of production

Wheat requires a large input of chemicals to realise maximum yield. This is now a heavy burden on the farming industry as the European Union implements its Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) reforms, which will reduce cereal prices. This project proposes to develop wheat with enhanced inherent nitrogen use that will require less fertiliser input, thus cut the cost of production and safeguard the environment from excessive nitrate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in line with EU directives. Cereal transformation will be combined with quantitative genetics and nitrogen metabolism to develop new wheat genotypes with improved fertiliser use efficiency. This will demonstrate that genetic manipulation of plants can be environmentally safe, economically useful and important for solving difficult agronomic problems.

Objectives
The objective of the project is to develop a 2-track approach to develop new genotypes with improved nitrogen use efficiency. This will be achieved by:
1) using molecular genetics to develop a screen for nitrogen (N) use in breeding programmes. QTL analysis on established double haploid lines will be done to establish the validity of using glutamine synthetase (GS) as a biochemical marker in selecting for N use efficiency. The wheat GS gene(s) will be located to an available marker-saturated map of wheat.
2) developing new wheat genotypes with enhanced N-use by cereal transformation on elite and double haploid mapped lines to over-express glutamine synthetase in the shoot. The transformed wheat will be studied in the field to select lines with enhanced N-fertiliser-use efficiency. The economics of the new wheat genotypes will be evaluated in integrated farming systems.

Progress to Date
QTLs have been established in this project relating to leaf N metabolism, peduncle N, grain yield and grain nitrogen using two statistical approaches. This is the first report of a molecular genetic study of N use in wheat and the data is being prepared for publication. This work has been very successful and lays down foundations for future QTL and marker identification and verification for N use in wheat.
Studies on transformed wheat (set1) over-expressing bean GS1 showed that the introduction of one transcript resulted in perturbations in the native wheat GS gene expression.
The successful cloning of GS1 genes, for the first time in wheat, offered the consortium an important tool to study the characteristics of a major nitrogen assimilating enzyme. This aspect of the project has advanced well and is critical to our understanding of the role of this key enzyme in nitrogen metabolism. Work on various wheat genotypes will be important to establish the contribution of GS to N use in wheat.

Classified in CEREALS, SOIL, CAP AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES AND MODELLING

Scientist responsible for the project

Mr PETER THOMAS

AL5 2JQ Harpenden
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 1582 763133
Fax: +44 1582 760981
E-mail: peter.thomas@bbsrc.ac.uk

References

Project ID QLRT-2000-01461
Organisation ROTHAMSTED EXPERIMENTAL STATION
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 October 2001
Duration (months) 48
Total cost 3 166 983 €
Total EC contribution   1 938 579 €
Status Ongoing

The partners

  • ROYAL VETERINARY AND AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY, Denmark - DK
    jks@kvl.dk
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