Tratado Internacional sobre los Recursos Fitogenéticos para la Alimentación y la Agricultura

BSF Project - Third Cycle

An Integrated Approach to Identify and Characterize Climate Resilient Wheat for the West Asia and North Africa Region
Where are we working?
The countries of West Asia and North Africa (WANA) face challenging issues of water scarcity, drought, land degradation and desertification, threatening agricultural productivity. Climate change is exacerbating the situation, and the region and its growing population now depend heavily on food imports. Improving wheat productivity in particular is considered important for food security.
This Benefit-sharing Fund project is developing climate-smart wheat varieties with improved resilience against abiotic stresses and higher yields to increase food security.

What are we doing?
  • Identification and conservation of climate change resilient wheat genetic resources with improved tolerance to drought and heat stress;
  • Assembly of two diverse subsets that include climate resilient, drought and heat stress tolerance durum and bread wheat genotypes by using molecular tools;
  • Evaluation of the two diverse subsets for yield potential and stability under drought and heat stress conditions;
  • Identification of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for drought and heat tolerance in the two subsets using a genome wide association study (GWAS) and mapping approach;
  • Utilization of open-access databases to incorporate field and molecular data, for wheat material used in this study;
  • Capacity building of NARS institutions and breeders in the WANA region to enable the use of molecular markers to breed climate change resilient wheat.

What has been achieved to date?
Over 1,250 wheat accessions have been identified, characterized using SNP markers, multiplied and conserved. This has facilitated the assembly of two diverse subsets for durum and bread wheat to identify climate-resilient genotypes and molecular markers associated with tolerance to drought and heat.
Phenotypic data from the field performance of the two subsets under drought and heat stress tolerance have been collected and analyzed. GWAS analysis has been used to identify several QTLs against drought and heat stress in durum and bread wheat. This has led to the identification of over 20 wheat lines from each species with improved tolerance against drought and heat stress. Such lines can be used to improve wheat productivity under dry conditions and heat stress, and molecular markers associated with targeted traits can be used by national and ICARDA breeding programs to assist in selecting wheat lines with improved resilience against climate change associated conditions.
Different software and databases (Breeding Management System, Gigwa and Germinate) have been utilized to facilitate information exchange and data use between ICARDA and NARS institutes. Such shared and open-access information for wheat material will help NARS breeders and partners to develop improved wheat for their countries.
Capacity of NARS institutions and breeders in the context of using molecular markers for breeding climate change resilient wheat varieties has been enhanced. Training courses and workshops targeting early-career NARS breeders on the use of molecular tools in wheat breeding will facilitate the adoption of new technologies and enable precise selection.

Who has benefited?
Young scientists and breeders from the WANA region and targeted countries are the main beneficiaries. 70 scientists benefited directly through the training courses. The development of wheat genotypes with improved drought and heat tolerance is expected to improve the livelihoods of tens of thousands of resource-poor farmers in the WANA region. The field days organised in Morocco have demonstrated the performance of improved wheat germplasm to the wider community of researchers and farmers. Moreover, the scientific community will have access to project results via the Open Access databases and we anticipate that numerous breeders and wheat scientists will regularly make us of the web site.

Best practices and success stories
Young NARS breeders and scientists showed great interest in adopting molecular markers in their national breeding programs. Adopting a molecular breeding approach will facilitate precise selection of targeted traits at early stages and thus accelerate the development of improved lines.
Window 3 - Co-development and Transfer of Technology project
Region: Near East
Target Countries: Egypt, Ethiopia, Jordan, Sudan
Implementing institution: ICARDA

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