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The performance of early-generation perennial winter cereals at 21 sites across four continents

Richard Hayes laura gazza James Anderson Lindsay Bell Douglas Cattani Katherine Frels Alexey Morgounov Anna Westerbergh Guangdi Li (2018)

A network of 21 experiments was established across nine countries on four continents and spanning both hemispheres, to evaluate the relative performance of early generation perennial cereal material derived from wheat, rye, and barley and to inform future breeding strategies. The experimental lines were grown in replicated single rows, and first year production and phenology characteristics as well as yield and persistence for up to three years were monitored. The study showed that the existing experimental material is all relatively short-lived (≤3 years), with environments that are milder in summer and winter generally conferring greater longevity. No pedigree was superior across this diverse network of sites although better performing lines at the higher latitude sites were generally derived from Thinopyrum intermedium. By contrast, at lower latitudes the superior lines were generally derived from Th. ponticum and Th. elongatum parentage. The study observed a poor relationship between year 1 performance and productivity in later years, highlighting the need for perennial cereal material with greater longevity to underpin future experimental evaluation, and the importance for breeding programs to emphasize post-year 1 performance in their selections. Hybrid lines derived from the tetraploid durum wheat generally showed greater longevity than derivatives of hexaploid wheat, highlighting potential for greater use of Triticum turgidum in perennial wheat breeding. We advocate a model in future breeding initiatives that develops perennial cereal genotypes for specific target environments rather than a generic product for one global market. These products may include a diversity of cultivars derived from locally adapted annual and perennial parents. In this scenario the breeding program may have access to only a limited range of adapted perennial grass parents. In other situations, such as at very high latitude environments, perennial crops derived from barley or rye may have a better chance of success than those derived from wheat. In either case, development and selection of the perennial parent for adaptation to local environments would seem fundamental to success.



Allometry of root branching and its relationship to root morphological and functional traits in three range grasses


"The study of proportional relationships between size, shape, and function of part of or the whole organism is traditionally known as allometry. Examination of correlative changes in the size of interbranch distances (IBDs) at different root orders may help to identify root branching rules. Root morphological and functional characteristics in three range grasses {bluebunch wheatgrass [Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh) Löve], crested wheatgrass [Agropyron desertorum (Fisch. ex Link) Schult.×A. cristatum (L.) Gaert.], and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.)} were examined in response to a soil nutrient gradient. Interbranch distances along the main root axis and the first-order laterals as well as other morphological and allocation root traits were determined. A model of nutrient diffusivity parameterized with root length and root diameter for the three grasses was used to estimate root functional properties (exploitation efficiency and exploitation potential). The results showed a significant negative allometric relationship between the main root axis and first-order lateral IBD (P ?0.05), but only for bluebunch wheatgrass. The main root axis IBD was positively related to the number and length of roots, estimated exploitation efficiency of second-order roots, and specific root length, and was negatively related to estimated exploitation potential of first-order roots. Conversely, crested wheatgrass and cheatgrass, which rely mainly on root proliferation responses, exhibited fewer allometric relationships. Thus, the results suggested that species such as bluebunch wheatgrass, which display slow root growth and architectural root plasticity rather than opportunistic root proliferation and rapid growth, exhibit correlative allometry between the main axis IBD and morphological, allocation, and functional traits of roots."


Bluebunch wheatgrass Cheatgrass Crested wheatgrass Exploitation efficiency Exploitation potential Root allometry Root morphology BIOLOGÍA Y QUÍMICA CIENCIAS DE LA VIDA BIOLOGÍA VEGETAL (BOTÁNICA) BIOLOGÍA VEGETAL (BOTÁNICA)