International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

BSF Project - Third Cycle

In vitro culture and genomics-assisted fast track improvement of local landraces of wheat and barley in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria for enhancing food security and adaptation to climate change
Where are we working?
Bread wheat, durum wheat and barley are the major staple food crops in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Due to the increasing occurrence of pests and diseases, drought, salinity, high temperatures and other effects of climate change, yields are ever lower, compromising food security and leading to an increasing reliance on imports for domestic consumption.
Plant genetic resources play a strategic role in adaptation to environmental change, constituting the raw material for the creation of new crop varieties with resistances to biotic and abiotic stresses. This Benefit-sharing project is analyzing, selecting and developing wheat, durum wheat and barley lines adapted to local conditions for regional resilience.

What are we doing?
  • Evaluation of bread wheat, durum wheat and barley landraces with regard to agro-morphological traits, including biotic stresses;
  • Analysis of grain micronutrient (Zn and Fe) contents in wheat and barley;
  • Genotyping of barley landraces, wild barley and wheat varieties for genome wide association studies (GWAS);
  • Development of climate resilient double haploid (DH) lines of wheat and barley, using marker-assisted selection;
  • Distribution of improved DHs to partners in the target countries;
  • Development of mapping populations (RILs and DHs) of wheat and barley and QTL mapping of climate resilient traits;
  • Training and capacity building of students, young researchers, professors and other stake holders.

What has been achieved to date?
The project has collated and screened over 1,000 landraces and varieties of bread wheat, durum wheat and barley from a wide variety of countries and identified several sources of resistance to key biotic stresses, namely yellow rust in bread wheat (13 accessions) and durum wheat (117 accessions), net blotch (39 accessions) and powdery mildew (34) in barley; resistances to Tun06 and TM220 isolates of Septoria tritici blight in durum wheat (49 and 47 accessions respectively). In order to identify single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the resistance traits, genotyping of over 600 barley landraces and wild barley (with 50K iSelect SNPs) and over 500 wheat accessions (with 90K iSelect SNPs) for genome-wide association study (GWAS) has been completed. The majority of the landraces have been distributed and shared with partners in the target countries for conservation through use.
Over 400 doubled haploids (DHs) have been developed and screened for rust resistant lines using marker-assisted selection (MAS). Over 400 DHs of wheat have been distributed to national partners for evaluation and eventual release as cultivars to farmers. Similarly, over 1000 barley DHs have been developed and over 200 of these have been distributed to national partners in the target countries. A total of over 4,000 segregants of wheat have been have been genotyped with trait linked SNP markers for marker-assisted selection (MAS).
Over 277 bread wheat and 395 barley landraces and cultivars have been evaluated for grain micronutrient content (Zn and Fe) to identify micronutrient rich landraces and cultivars for use by farmers and breeders and to address human malnutrition.
The project has trained 40 students and young researchers from the target countries to conduct research as part of their undergraduate and post graduate degree programs. Training workshops in genomics and in vitro culture techniques have been organized for students, young scientists, researchers and professors, and the project has supported all partners in their participation in national and international conferences to disseminate project results.

Who has benefited?
The project has directly benefited 350 genetic resource specialists, plant breeders, plant protection scientists, researchers, technicians, professors, and students in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Women were the main beneficiaries of the training workshops and research programs, constituting 60% and 82% of participants respectively.
An estimated 5000 people have indirectly benefited from the transfer of technologies and knowledge provided by the project partners. Moreover, innumerable people will benefit from the identification and development of biotic stress tolerant germplasm, which will improve resilience of farmers, and improve livelihoods, food and nutritional security.
Barley, Bread wheat (T. aiestivum), Durum wheat
Window 3 - Co-development and Transfer of Technology project
Region: Near East
Target Countries: Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia
Implementing institution: ICARDA

Link to dedicated website

Share this page