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Toowoomba, Australia

Zheng B.,CSIRO | Chapman S.C.,CSIRO | Christopher J.T.,University of Queensland | Frederiks T.M.,Leslie Research Facility | Chenu K.,University of Queensland
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2015

Radiant spring frosts occurring during reproductive developmental stages can result in catastrophic yield loss for wheat producers. To better understand the spatial and temporal variability of frost, the occurrence and impact of frost events on rain-fed wheat production was estimated across the Australian wheatbelt for 1957-2013 using a 0.05 ° gridded weather data set. Simulated yield outcomes at 60 key locations were compared with those for virtual genotypes with different levels of frost tolerance. Over the last six decades, more frost events, later last frost day, and a significant increase in frost impact on yield were found in certain regions of the Australian wheatbelt, in particular in the South-East and West. Increasing trends in frost-related yield losses were simulated in regions where no significant trend of frost occurrence was observed, due to higher mean temperatures accelerating crop development and causing sensitive post-heading stages to occur earlier, during the frost risk period. Simulations indicated that with frost-tolerant lines the mean national yield could be improved by up to 20% through (i) reduced frost damage (∼10% improvement) and (ii) the ability to use earlier sowing dates (adding a further 10% improvement). In the simulations, genotypes with an improved frost tolerance to temperatures 1 °C lower than the current 0 °C reference provided substantial benefit in most cropping regions, while greater tolerance (to 3 °C lower temperatures) brought further benefits in the East. The results indicate that breeding for improved reproductive frost tolerance should remain a priority for the Australian wheat industry, despite warming climates. © The Author 2015. Source

Dreccer M.F.,University of Queensland | Wockner K.B.,University of Queensland | Palta J.A.,CSIRO | McIntyre C.L.,CSIRO | And 5 more authors.
Functional Plant Biology | Year: 2014

An understanding of processes regulating wheat floret and grain number at higher temperatures is required to better exploit genetic variation. In this study we tested the hypothesis that at higher temperatures, a reduction in floret fertility is associated with a decrease in soluble sugars and this response is exacerbated in genotypes low in water soluble carbohydrates (WSC). Four recombinant inbred lines contrasting for stem WSC were grown at 20/10 °C and 11h photoperiod until terminal spikelet, and then continued in a factorial combination of 20/10°C or 28/14 °C with 11h or 16h photoperiod until anthesis. Across environments, High WSC lines had more grains per spike associated with more florets per spike. The number of fertile florets was associated with spike biomass at booting and, by extension, with glucose amount, both higher in High WSC lines. At booting, High WSC lines had higher fixed 13C and higher levels of expression of genes involved in photosynthesis and sucrose transport and lower in sucrose degradation compared with Low WSC lines. At higher temperature, the intrinsic rate of floret development rate before booting was slower in High WSC lines. Grain set declined with the intrinsic rate of floret development before booting, with an advantage for High WSC lines at 28/14°C and 16h. Genotypic and environmental action on floret fertility and grain set was summarised in a model. © 2014 CSIRO. Source

Frederiks T.M.,Leslie Research Facility
Journal of experimental botany | Year: 2012

Cereal crops can suffer substantial damage if frosts occur at heading. Identification of post-head-emergence frost (PHEF) resistance in cereals poses a number of unique and difficult challenges. Many decades of research have failed to identify genotypes with PHEF resistance that could offer economically significant benefit to growers. Research and breeding gains have been limited by the available screening systems. Using traditional frost screening systems, genotypes that escape frost injury in trials due to spatial temperature differences and/or small differences in phenology can be misidentified as resistant. We believe that by improving techniques to minimize frost escapes, such 'false-positive' results can be confidently identified and eliminated. Artificial freezing chambers or manipulated natural frost treatments offer many potential advantages but are not yet at the stage where they can be reliably used for frost screening in breeding programmes. Here we describe the development of a novel photoperiod gradient method (PGM) that facilitates screening of genotypes of different phenology under natural field frosts at matched developmental stages. By identifying frost escapes and increasing the efficiency of field screening, the PGM ensures that research effort can be focused on finding genotypes with improved PHEF resistance. To maximize the likelihood of identifying PHEF resistance, we propose that the PGM form part of an integrated strategy to (i) source germplasm;(ii) facilitate high throughput screening; and (iii) permit detailed validation. PGM may also be useful in other studies where either a range of developmental stages and/or synchronized development are desired. Source

Frederiks T.M.,Leslie Research Facility | Frederiks T.M.,University of Southern Queensland | Christopher J.T.,University of Queensland | Sutherland M.W.,University of Southern Queensland | Borrell A.K.,University of Queensland
Journal of Experimental Botany | Year: 2015

Radiant frost is a significant production constraint to wheat (Triticum aestivum) and barley (Hordeum vulgare), particularly in regions where spring-habit cereals are grown through winter, maturing in spring. However, damage to winter-habit cereals in reproductive stages is also reported. Crops are particularly susceptible to frost once awns or spikes emerge from the protection of the flag leaf sheath. Post-head-emergence frost (PHEF) is a problem distinct from other cold-mediated production constraints. To date, useful increased PHEF resistance in cereals has not been identified. Given the renewed interest in reproductive frost damage in cereals, it is timely to review the problem. Here we update the extent and impacts of PHEF and document current management options to combat this challenge. We clarify terminology useful for discussing PHEF in relation to chilling and other freezing stresses. We discuss problems characterizing radiant frost, the environmental conditions leading to PHEF damage, and the effects of frost at different growth stages. PHEF resistant cultivars would be highly desirable, to both reduce the incidence of direct frost damage and to allow the timing of crop maturity to be managed to maximize yield potential. A framework of potential adaptation mechanisms is outlined. Clarification of these critical issues will sharpen research focus, improving opportunities to identify genetic sources for improved PHEF resistance. © The Author 2015. Source

Christopher J.T.,University of Queensland | Veyradier M.,Fisheries and Forestry Queensland DAFF | Borrell A.K.,University of Queensland | Harvey G.,Leslie Research Facility | And 2 more authors.
Functional Plant Biology | Year: 2014

Stay-green plants retain green leaves longer after anthesis and can have improved yield, particularly under water limitation. As senescence is a dynamic process, genotypes with different senescence patterns may exhibit similar final normalised difference vegetative index (NDVI). By monitoring NDVI from as early as awn emergence to maturity, we demonstrate that analysing senescence dynamics improves insight into genotypic stay-green variation. A senescence evaluation tool was developed to fit a logistic function to NDVI data and used to analyse data from three environments for a wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) population whose lines contrast for stay-green. Key stay-green traits were estimated including, maximum NDVI, senescence rate and a trait integrating NDVI variation after anthesis, as well as the timing from anthesis to onset, midpoint and conclusion of senescence. The integrative trait and the timing to onset and mid-senescence exhibited high positive correlations with yield and a high heritability in the three studied environments. Senescence rate was correlated with yield in some environments, whereas maximum NDVI was associated with yield in a drought-stressed environment. Where resources preclude frequent measurements, we found that NDVI measurements may be restricted to the period of rapid senescence, but caution is required when dealing with lines of different phenology. In contrast, regular monitoring during the whole period after flowering allows the estimation of senescence dynamics traits that may be reliably compared across genotypes and environments. We anticipate that selection for stay-green traits will enhance genetic progress towards high-yielding, stay-green germplasm. © CSIRO 2014. Source

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