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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 95 No. 1, p. 99-113
    Received: May 1, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): scott.chapman@csiro.au
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Evaluating Plant Breeding Strategies by Simulating Gene Action and Dryland Environment Effects

  1. Scott Chapman *a,
  2. Mark Cooperb,
  3. Dean Podlichb and
  4. Graeme Hammerc
  1. a CSIRO Plant Industry, Long Pocket Lab., 120 Meiers Rd., Indooroopilly, 4068, QLD, Australia
    b School of Land and Food Sci., The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, QLD, Australia
    c Agric. Prod. Syst. Res. Unit, Queensland Dep. of Primary Industries, P.O. Box 102, Toowoomba, QLD, 4350, Australia


Functional genomics is the systematic study of genome-wide effects of gene expression on organism growth and development with the ultimate aim of understanding how networks of genes influence traits. Here, we use a dynamic biophysical cropping systems model (APSIM-Sorg) to generate a state space of genotype performance based on 15 genes controlling four adaptive traits and then search this space using a quantitative genetics model of a plant breeding program (QU-GENE) to simulate recurrent selection. Complex epistatic and gene × environment effects were generated for yield even though gene action at the trait level had been defined as simple additive effects. Given alternative breeding strategies that restricted either the cultivar maturity type or the drought environment type, the positive (+) alleles for 15 genes associated with the four adaptive traits were accumulated at different rates over cycles of selection. While early maturing genotypes were favored in the Severe-Terminal drought environment type, late genotypes were favored in the Mild-Terminal and Midseason drought environment types. In the Severe-Terminal environment, there was an interaction of the stay-green (SG) trait with other traits: Selection for + alleles of the SG genes was delayed until + alleles for genes associated with the transpiration efficiency and osmotic adjustment traits had been fixed. Given limitations in our current understanding of trait interaction and genetic control, the results are not conclusive. However, they demonstrate how the per se complexity of gene × gene × environment interactions will challenge the application of genomics and marker-assisted selection in crop improvement for dryland adaptation.

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Copyright © 2003. American Society of AgronomyPublished in Agron. J.95:99–113.