Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Progress in developing perennial wheats for grain and grazing

Philip J. Larkin A B F , Matthew T. Newell B C E , Richard C. Hayes B D , Jesmin Aktar E , Mark R. Norton B D , Sergio J. Moroni E and Len J. Wade B E
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia.

C NSW Department of Primary Industries, Cowra Agricultural Research and Advisory Station, PO Box 129, Cowra, NSW 2794, Australia.

D NSW Department of Primary Industries, Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, Private Mail Bag, Pine Gully Road, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650, Australia.

E Charles Sturt University, Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Locked Bag 588, Wagga Wagga, NSW 2678, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: philip.larkin@csiro.au

Crop and Pasture Science 65(11) 1147-1164 https://doi.org/10.1071/CP13330
Submitted: 26 September 2013  Accepted: 5 December 2013   Published: 26 February 2014

Abstract

Dual-purpose cereals have been important for increasing the flexibility and profitability of mixed farming enterprises in southern Australia, providing winter feed when pasture dry matter production is low, and then recovering to produce grain. A perennial dual-purpose cereal could confer additional economic and environmental benefits. We establish that, at the end of a second growth season, selected perennial cereals were able to achieve up to 10-fold greater below-ground biomass than a resown annual wheat. We review and expand the data on available, diverse, perennial, wheat-derived germplasm, confirming that perenniality is achievable but that further improvements are essential through targeted breeding. Although not yet commercially deployable, the grain yields and dry matter production of the best performing lines approach the benchmarks predicted to achieve profitability. On reviewing the genomic composition of the most promising wheat-derived perennials, we conclude that the best near-term prospect of a productive breeding program for a perennial, wheat-derived cereal will utilise a diploid, perennial donor species, and the most promising one thus far is Thinopyrum elongatum. Furthermore, the breeding should be aimed at complete wheat–Th. elongatum amphiploids, a hybrid synthetic crop analogous to triticale. We advocate the generation of many primary amphiploids involving a diversity of Th. elongatum accessions and a diversity of adapted annual wheat cultivars. Primary perennial amphiploids would be inter-crossed and advanced with heavy, early-generation selection for traits such as semi-dwarf plant height, non-shattering heads, large seed size and good self-fertility, followed by later generation selection for robust perenniality, days to flowering, grain yield, forage yield, stability of grain yield across seasons, and disease resistance.


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