Mechanisms of dormancy, preharvest sprouting tolerance and how they are influenced by the environment during grain filling and maturation in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    [Truncated abstract] Wheat is the main crop in Australia and there are stringent quality requirements. Preharvest sprouting induced by rainfall between maturity and harvest lowers grain quality from premium to feed grades and reduces yield. Wheat production has expanded into the southern Western Australian region where preharvest sprouting occurs in ~1 in 4 seasons and development of more preharvest sprouting tolerant genotypes is required. The main mechanism for improving preharvest sprouting tolerance is grain dormancy. There is genetic variation for dormancy based in the embryo and seed coat but dormancy is complex and is influenced by environmental conditions during grain filling and maturation. Screening and selecting for preharvest sprouting tolerance is problematic and the level of tolerance needed for regions which differ in the level of dormancy they impose, requires clarification. The research presented here aims to answer the underlying question for breeders of how much dormancy is required for preharvest sprouting tolerance in contrasting target environments of the central and coastal wheat belt regions of Western Australia. In the central and coastal wheat belt regions, field trials with modified environments were used to determine the environmental influence on dormancy. Water supply (without directly wetting the grain) and air temperature were modified during grain development in a range of genotypes with different mechanisms of dormancy to determine the influence of environment on dormancy. ... Genotypes with embryo dormancy were consistently the most preharvest sprouting tolerant, even though this dormancy was influenced by the environmental conditions in the different seasons. Pyramiding the embryo component with the specific seed coat component and/or awnless head trait removed some of the environmental variation in preharvest sprouting tolerance, but this was generally considered excessive to the environmental requirements. The methods developed here, of field imposed stresses may provide a valuable tool to further understand the influence of environment on the regulation of dormancy, as different phenotypes can be made with the same genotype. Moisture stress, sudden changes in water supply or high temperatures during the late dough stages influenced dormancy phenotype and should be considered and avoided if possible when selecting locations and running trials for screening for genetic differences in preharvest sprouting tolerance. In the Western Australian context, the embryo component of dormancy appeared to be sufficient and should be adopted as the most important trait for breeding for preharvest sprouting tolerance.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2006


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