Optimising genetic control of oat phenology for Australia
To achieve maximum yield and optimal grain quality, the time of year when cereal crops flower and produce grain must coincide with optimal seasonal conditions. Variation flowering time allows breeders to produce cereal varieties suited to specific regions, climates and management practices. Genes that underlie this variation have been identified in wheat and barley but less is known about the genetic control of phenology of oats (Avena sativa), although phenology underpins both adaptation and year-to-year environmental impacts on milling quality.
Information from a survey of genetic variation in global and Australian oat varieties, together with pedigree records, will be used to develop a more targeted oat diversity collection that captures broad genetic diversity, while also being highly relevant to Australian growers. The phenology of the core diversity collection will be assayed in controlled growth conditions, to identify genes that control sensitivity to vernalization, photoperiod or inherent earliness. This analysis will use genome-wide markers, transcriptome sequencing and machine-learning to gain functional understanding of the gene-networks controlling flowering. Functional gene-marker information will then be delivered to oat breeders to facilitate parent selection and prediction of crossing outcomes.
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