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Crop Science Abstract -

Wheat Breeding Nurseries, Target Environments, and Indirect Selection for Grain Yield


This article in CS

  1. Vol. 37 No. 4, p. 1168-1176
    Received: July 1, 1996

    * Corresponding author(s): m.cooper@uq.edu.au
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  1. M. Cooper ,
  2. R. E. Stucker,
  3. I. H. DeLacy and
  4. B. D. Harch
  1. Dep. of Agriculture, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
    Dep. of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, Univ. of Minnesota, 411 Borlaug Hall, St Paul, MN 55108-6026
    CSIRO, Mathematical and Information Sciences, PMB No. 2, Glen Osmond, South Australia 5064, Australia



Use of appropriate nursery environments will maximize gain from selection for yield of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in the target population of environments of a breeding program. The objective of this study was to investigate how, well-irrigated (low-stress) nursery environments predict yield of lines in target environments that varied in degree of water limitation. Fifteen lines were sampled from the preliminary yield evaluation stage of the Queensland wheat breeding program and tested in 26 trials under on-farm conditions (Target Environments) across nine years (1985 to 1993) and also in 27 trials conducted at three research stations (Nursery Environments) in three years (1987 to 1989). The nursery environments were structured impose different levels of water and nitrogen (N) limitation, whereas the target environments represented a random sample of on-farm conditions from the target population of environments. Indirect selection and pattern analysis methods were used to investigate selection for yield in the nursery environments and gain from selection in the target environments. Yield under low-stress nursery conditions was an effective predictor of yield under similar low-stress target environments (r = 0.89, P < 0.01). However, the value of the low-stress nursery as a predictor of yield in the water-limited target environments decreased with increasing water stress (moderate stress r = 0.53, P < 0.05, to r = 0.38, P > 0.05; severe stress r = −0.08, P > 0.05). Yield in the stress nurseries was a poor predictor of yield in the target environments. Until there is a clear understanding of the physiological-genetic basis of variation for adaptation of wheat to the waterlimited environments in Queensland, yield improvement can best be achieved by selection for a combination of yield potential in an irrigated low-stress nursery and yield in on-farm trials that sample the range of water-limited environments of the target population of environments.

Journal no. 22424.

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