The Canadian Wheat Alliance is partnering with two international plant breeding companies — Syngenta and KWS — to cut the cost and time it takes to develop new wheat varieties.
“A partnership to shorten the breeding cycle and bring novel varieties quicker to market with international wheat plant and breeding experts from KWS and Syngenta will allow us to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Canadian Wheat Alliance,” says Dr. Faouzi Bekkaoui, Executive Director of the Wheat Improvement Flagship Program with the National Research Council of Canada (the Alliance consists of the NRC, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the province of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan.)
Together with the two private partners, the CWA is looking to improve on existing doubled haploid technology — a method of exposing immature grain to treatments that double the genetic material, reducing the length of breeding cycles. Their specific goal is to isolate “microspore culture protocols” that will be effective in 80 percent of Canadian and European spring and winter wheat genotypes. This should result in improved breeding efficiency compared to the existing methods of developing doubled haploid wheat plants, which are costly, inconsistent and time-consuming. The CWA says the breeding cycle could be shortened by two to four years.
The total cost of the four-year initiative is estimated at around $2.5 million, with most of the funding coming from CWA members, as well as the Western Grains Research Foundation.