Friday, February 25, 2011
UI Wheat Breeder Receives Grant to Study Climate Change on Wheat
A $750,000 project to analyze the water and fertilizer use efficiency of 3,000 wheat and barley lines will occupy University of Idaho wheat breeder Jianli Chen for the next five years at the Aberdeen Research and Extension Center.
The project is part of a $25 million USDA-funded project led by University of California at Davis wheat geneticist Jorge Dubcovsky to develop new varieties of wheat and barley to help farmers prepare for climate change.
Chen’s preliminary research into drought stress supported by the Idaho Wheat Commission helped her to become a key part in the grant to do phenotypic screening for water and nitrogen use efficiency.
According to Chen, Aberdeen is the perfect location because the regions’ rainfall averages 10 inches a year, cereal grain production in southern Idaho relies on irrigation. Simulating drought conditions simply means turning off or reducing the water supply.
She will focus on the holdings of the National Small Grains Collection, which is maintained by the Agricultural Research Service at Aberdeen. The collection holds germplasm gathered by researchers worldwide since about 1897.
The project will be the first effort in the genebank’s history to measure the water and nitrogen efficiency of various wheat and barley lines in the collection.