What is in this article?:
- Texas AgriLife Research and Bayer CropScience announce research agreement.
- Pinpointing molecular mechanisms within a wheat plant helps researchers select for drought tolerance and quality.
- Agreement will allow researchers to utilize biotechnology to make a concentrated effort on drought tolerance for Texas wheat producers.
Quality also a focus
While Texas A&M’s wheat varietieswere not always known for quality, the work from the wheat lab has resulted in great progress towards improving specific quality traits, Baltensperger said. The milling and baking industry gave high rankings to recent AgriLife releases due to the continuous improvement in bread quality.
“And today, the tortilla market and the chip market from tortillas is a bigger consumer of wheat flour than loaf bread,” he said. “Because this is an area we intend to focus our attention, we believe we can make additional strides and a quality difference worldwide.”
And most recently, the Texas AgriLife Genomics and Bioinformatics Core was established in College Station, said Dr. Bill McCutchen, AgriLife Research executive associate director.Led by Dr. Charlie Johnson, the genomics core provides scientists with the capability to quickly advance important traits found in multiple research plots across Texas.
“The molecular-marker system provides a genetic road-map of sorts,” McCutchen said. “We now have the ability with genomicsto integrate and develop superior wheat varieties for yield, drought tolerance, quality and other traits in a much shorter period of time as compared to conventional means of breeding.”
The AgriLife Research small grains program has provided commercially available releases such as TAM 111, TAM 112, TAM 113, TAM 203, TAM 304, TAM 401 and TAM soft 700 in recent years, said Dr. Jackie Rudd, an AgriLife Research wheat breeder in Amarillo.
TAM 111 is the No. 1 variety in Texas, Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle, and No. 3 in Colorado and Nebraska, Rudd said.
All TAM varieties are licensed to and marketed by private industry, as AgriLife Research and Texas A&M are in the business of developing new varieties but are not a commercial seed company, said Steve Brown, Texas Foundation Seed Service program director in Vernon.
Brown said Texas Foundation Seed Service’s role is to take a new TAM wheat variety from the research program and expand the seed to a quantity large enough to make it available to a commercial seed company that licenses the new variety for further release.
“AgriLife scientists will continue to develop and release TAM varieties in the same manner as has been done in the past,” he said.
“However, this agreement will facilitate more rapid development of desirable traits incorporated in new TAM varieties to be made available to wheat producers throughout Texas and other traditional hard red wheat production areas of the U.S. and on a global scale,” Brown said.
AgriLife Research’s wheat breeding program is a strong one that has been built on public funding and producer support, as well as with private collaborations, Rudd said. This latest agreement will only enhance the future of the program.
Although gains have been steady, a lower investment in wheat genetic research over the years has left wheat yield gains lagging compared to corn, which has many more researchers dedicated to its advancement, he said.
“These types of collaborations ultimately lead to direct benefits to producers and consumers, and they will be the ultimate winners,” Rudd said.