Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Research Progress Reports

2018-2019 WSU Wheat & Barley Research Reports to the Washington Grain Commission

Individual Reports

Field Breeding Hard White and Red Winter Wheat (pdf)
Executive Summary: One hard red winter wheat line was released in 2015. Sequoia (WA8180) is a standard height hard red winter wheat targeted to the <12” rainfall zones of Washington. This line has good end-use quality, average protein content, very good test weight, good stripe rust resistance, and good yield potential. What makes this line stand out from other lines is its ability to emerge from deep planting and dry soils. This line will be a benefit to growers in the low rainfall zones in moisture limiting conditions. This variety has replaced many of the Farnum acres and was in commercial production in 2018. Apart from this line, there are additional lines being testing in variety testing for release potential, under both low and high rainfall conditions. WA8268 is a hard red line adapted to the high rainfall zones of the state with excellent yield potential, disease resistance, and aluminum tolerance. In 2017 and 2018, WA8268 was in the top significant group for yield with newly released cultivars LCS Jet and LCS Rocket. As such, we have begun seed increase of this line. Additionally, WA8289 was a top yielding line in both WSU and OSU VTP trials. Continued emphasis has been placed on selecting breeding lines with superior quality and disease resistance. We also have a strong interest in developing hard lines with excellent emergence capabilities, and continually screen material to this end. Efforts have been initiated and are ongoing to develop hard cultivars with herbicide tolerance, snow mold resistance, and aluminum tolerance. We have identified lines with aluminum tolerance and are testing them for release potential. We maintain about 10% of the hard material as hard white and apply heavy selection pressure to ensure adapted material is advanced. Some of these hard white lines have been tested under irrigation in Southern Idaho and have performed very well. One of these, WA8252, appears to have very high market potential in Idaho under irrigation. Our next main target is to develop hard red cultivars with herbicide resistance. These include lines with imazamox tolerance, CoAxium resistance, and some novel traits identified within the WSU weed science program. These lines have the potential for large market share within the state to improve wheat cropping systems.

Use of Biotechnology for Wheat Improvement (pdf)
Executive Summary: In 2018 we continued our effort to advance breeding lines as quickly and efficiently as possibly by employing both molecular marker analysis and doubled-haploid technology. The traits of main focus for marker-assisted selection are foot rot resistance, stripe rust resistance, herbicide tolerance, and end-use quality. These are our primary focus due to very good markers having been developed and the importance of these traits in Washington. Additional traits include aluminum tolerance, SBWMV, dwarfing genes, low PPO, Fusarium head blight, Hessian fly, Cephalosporium, and nematode resistance. Over 12,000 data points were collected on 240 populations to confirm presence of desired genes based on marker profiling. These have been advanced to field testing to confirm presence of the selected genes. Markers were also used to screen all advanced breeding lines to identify presence of known genes. This information was used for selection and advancement purposes (in conjunction with field data) as well as for selecting lines which should be cross-hybridized to create future populations. The process of marker-assisted selection is an ongoing process, and at any given point we either have lines planted for analysis, in the laboratory undergoing marker profiling, or on increase in the greenhouse after selection to advance seed into field evaluations. Our genomic selection efforts are proceeding and we have models for end-use quality and snow mold tolerance. In the greenhouse, we made approximately 900 crosses consisting mainly of soft white and hard red germplasm. These are being advanced to the F1 generation, and then divided between our DH production and MAS protocol. We planted ~3,800 DH plants in the field in 2018 for evaluation. The remaining DH lines are undergoing increase in the greenhouse and will have a similar number ready for yield evaluation in 2019. 150 crosses have been submitted for DH production in 2018. We also have about 100 specialty crosses to introgress traits from non-PNW adapted material. Extra focus has been put on developing CoAxium wheat lines, and markers have selected fixed populations which are being advanced in the greenhouse in preparation for field planting. Hessian fly populations are on increase, and will shortly be sent to Idaho for phenotypic confirmation and selection of resistance.

Field Breeding Soft White Winter Wheat (pdf)
Executive Summary: A new club cultivar, developed in coordination and collaboration with the USDA breeding program, was approved for release in 2015 and will be named Pritchett. This is targeted to replace Bruehl in the non-snow mold areas, with improved disease resistance, yield potential, and cold hardiness. In the 2018 VT trails, Jasper continues to be one of the top yielding lines across >12” precipitation zones. Puma was in high demand and is now the #5 cultivar grown in the state, continuing to perform well across production zones. Otto, a 2011 release from this program, continues to maintain demand. Since 2015 it has been planted on over 200,000 acres. Nine advanced breeding lines were entered into WSU’s Variety Testing (VT) Program, four in the low rainfall zones and five in the high. In 2018 we released Purl (WA8234), a SWW with excellent yield potential, high test weight, stripe rust resistance, eyespot resistance, and the first line we know of with confirmed nematode resistance and aluminum tolerance. Registered seed is being produced. WA8275CL+ (Stingray CL+) is another line which has performed very well in trials, and is on Registered seed increase as well. Over 2,000 unreplicated yield-trial plots were evaluated at either Pullman or Lind and over 41,000 F4 head rows and DH rows were evaluated in Pullman, Lind, and Waterville. Over 2,900 DH lines were planted for 2018 evaluation. High selection pressure is continually placed on disease resistance, emergence, flowering date, end-use quality, straw strength, etc. Multiple screening locations have been established to evaluate germplasm for: stripe rust resistance, foot rot resistance, snow mold resistance, good emergence, aluminum tolerance, soil borne wheat mosaic virus resistance, Cephalosporium tolerance, and nematode resistance. The program has also employed efforts to develop herbicide resistant cultivars and advanced lines have been entered into Variety Testing. Many lines have been performing very well and some are on breeders seed increase in preparation for variety release proposal. We continue to put a strong emphasis on soft white wheat in the program, and have begun to modify our breeding schemes to account for marker-assisted selection, genomic selection, and doubled-haploid production.

Control of Wheat and Barley Rusts (pdf) 
Executive Summary: During 2018, studies were conducted according to the objectives of the project proposal and all objectives specified for the third year have been successfully completed. In addition to the major accomplishments and their impacts listed below, this project results in genetic resources and techniques for further studying the biology and genetics of the pathogens and mechanisms of interactions between the pathogen and plants.

FINAL REPORT: Control of Wheat and Barely Rusts (pdf)
Executive Summary: During the three years (2016-2018), studies were conducted according to the objectives of the project proposal and all objectives specified for the three year have been successfully completed. In addition to the major accomplishments and their impacts listed below, this project results in genetic resources and techniques for further studying the biology and genetics of the pathogens and mechanisms of interactions between the pathogen and plants.

Evaluation of Barley Varieties (pdf)
Executive Summary: In 2018, the Cereal Variety Testing Program (VTP) conducted 12 spring barley variety trials across eastern Washington. The total number of individual barley plots evaluated was 864. Entries in the trials included submissions from every major barley breeding program in the Pacific Northwest. Variety performance information is delivered to barley growers and other clientele through field tours (10 tours in 2018), grower meetings, the variety testing website, emails with preliminary results after harvest (over 200 recipients), the variety selection tool (located at, Wheat Life, seed buying guide, annual technical report, direct contact with clientele, and reports to the Washington Grain Commission. The variety trials are used by WSU breeders for variety release decisions, by pathologists to rate disease reactions, and for county Extension programming.

Evaluation of Wheat Varieties (pdf)
Executive Summary: In 2018, the Cereal Variety Testing Program (VTP) conducted 24 soft winter, 16 hard winter, 18 soft spring, and 18 hard spring wheat variety trials across eastern Washington. The total number of individual wheat plots evaluated was 8,028. Entries in the trials included submissions from 12 different breeding programs/cooperators. Variety performance information is delivered to wheat growers and other clientele through field tours (21 tours in 2018), grower meetings (1 in 2018), the variety testing website, emails with preliminary results after harvest (over 200 recipients), the variety selection tool (located at, Wheat Life articles, seed buying guides, annual technical report, direct contact with clientele, and reports to the Washington Grain Commission. Grain from variety trials is used to generate information on end use quality, disease reactions, market class grading, and falling numbers.

Evaluation and Selection for Cold Tolerance in Wheat (pdf)
Executive Summary: We used the artificial screening system in the greenhouse to evaluate the Washington Extension Soft and Hard Winter Wheat Trials. We have screened these extension trials every year since 2001. The released and experimental lines from the 2018 trials are included in Tables 1 and 2 below.

Since 2013, we have rated 1877 breeding lines from public regional winter wheat breeding programs for survival. All breeding programs had lines that varied in winter tolerance. Breeders have used this information for selection of new experimental lines.

We scored survival in a doubled haploid population derived from Cara/Xerpha and survival ranged from 10% to 99% in this population (Figure 1). We are currently in the process of identifying QTL associated with the resistance in this population. Since both breeding lines are important PNW cultivars, we will discover molecular markers that can be readily used in the WSU and USDA breeding programs.

We scored survival in a large Winter Wheat Core Nursery representing a global collection of winter wheat cultivars. The range in survival in that population follows a linear trend from 0 to 100%. Our best check, Norstar had a survival of 78% so we are particularly interested in the 230 accessions that survived better than Norstar. We are currently in the process of identifying QTL associated with resistance in this global wheat population and hope to identify new sources of cold tolerance, of growth, and development that will be used to continue to improve survival in PNW winter wheat.

We evaluated the large PNW association mapping panel and Western regional nurseries for allelic and copy number variation at the Vrn1/Fr1 and Fr2 loci that are known to be associated with cold tolerance in wheat. Many of these alleles are segregating in our populations. The segregation that we documented at these known genes, for which we have effective KASP markers, is responsible for 38% of the variation for cold tolerance in this population. In addition to the known loci on the group 5 chromosomes, we discovered new loci on the group 1 and group 6 chromosomes. Use of these markers early in the breeding cycle is underway.

We discovered that freezing tolerance follows a diurnal pattern. In plants grown under 12 hours light/12 hours dark at a constant 3 degrees C (37 degrees F), cold tolerance was significantly greater at the midpoints of the light, and of the dark periods, compared to the end of either light or dark period. This new knowledge will help us to schedule our freezing test runs to achieve the maximum freezing tolerance. It also has implications in the genetic control of freezing tolerance, which seems to involve the day length sensing system in plants.

Club Wheat Breeding (pdf)
Executive Summary: We focused club wheat development on two major goals: 1) Development of competitive club wheat cultivars for the < 15 inch rainfall zone with excellent resistance to snow mold, eyespot, stripe rust, sprouting and good emergence and winter hardiness and 2) Development of competitive early maturing club wheat for the > 15 inch rainfall zone with excellent resistance to eyespot, cephalosporium stripe, stripe rust, aluminum toxicity and good straw strength, and excellent test weight.

The new club wheat cultivar, Pritchett, jointly developed by the USDA-ARS and WSU winter wheat breeding programs, was released in 2015, because of its superior agronomic productivity in the targeted region, and superior end use quality combined with resistance to multiple diseases and abiotic stress. This cultivar was available to growers in the fall of 2018. Foundation seed of Pritchett, was produced. Pritchett is targeted to the traditional club wheat growing region in the dry precipitation zones.

ARS Castella (ARS20060123-31C) developed by the USDA-ARS and WSU was released in 2018 as an early maturing club wheat with good performance, excellent stripe rust resistance, aluminum tolerance and tolerance to low falling numbers. Castella has performed better in lower rainfall trials where lodging due to its height has not been a problem.

New club wheat breeding lines have been highly competitive with soft white wheat cultivars in multiple rainfall zones during the past three harvest seasons. In the Washington State Extension Dry Trials the three year yields of Pritchett averaged 6% more than ARS-Crescent and Bruehl in the < 12 inch rainfall zone; equal to ARS-Crescent and 4% better than Bruehl in the 12-16 inch rainfall zone (Table 1). ARS Castella was entered into the WAVT dry trials where yields were 2% better than Bruehl, 8% better than ARS-Crescent and 5% better than Bruehl <12 inch rainfall zones. Castella was equal to Pritchett, and ARS-Crescent and 3% better than Bruehl in the 12-16 inch rainfall zone.

The club wheat ARS Crescent is a complement to Pritchett in the higher rainfall regions (Table 2). ARS Crescent maintained acceptable falling numbers in almost all environments in 2016- 2017 and has achieved stable high performance across rainfall zones over multiple years.

Assessment of Soil Acidity on Soil-Borne Pathogens, Weed Spectrum, Herbicide Activity Yield, and Crop Quality on Dryland Wheat Production (pdf)
Executive Summary: To initiate this long-term research effort, 24 x 50ft. plots were established in fall 2016 and treated with four ultrafine liquid calcium carbonate treatments (0, 600, 1200, and 2400 lbs/acre) with 4 replications. The plots were soil tested in April 2017 and April 2018 and successfully established different soil acidity levels ranghing from pH 4.85 to pH 6.65. Micronutrients were applied based on soil test results and included Zinc, Boron, and Copper. The plots were established in three distinct production zones in order to make the results of this research effort applicable to a wide audience of producers, provide a robust multi-location dataset, and understand how the effects of liming and soil acidity may differ regionally. The three locations include: CBARC Sherman Station in Sherman County, OR (11 in. annual rainfall), the CBARC Pendleton Station in Umatilla County, OR (16 in. annual rainfall), and in Whitman County, WA at the Palouse Conservation Field Station (PCFS) and in a farmer’s (Clark) field (18 in. annual rainfall). The project was initiated in 2017, and our first year of yield data do not yet indicate a significant effect of lime application on yield. In 2017, plots were established in spring wheat following fallow (Oregon locations) and re-cropping following chickpeas in Whitman County. In 2018 we began the typical winter wheat-summer fallow rotaion for the Oregon plot sites, and annual cropping system in Washington.

Extension Education for Wheat and Barley Growers (pdf)
Executive Summary: The Wheat and Small Grains website ( was launched by the Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Team in early 2014. The website serves as a onestop shop for all the information WSU Extension has on small grains production. The development of Decision Support Tools has been a priority for the team over the course of this project. We currently have 16 tools or calculators available on the Wheat and Small Grains website. The five most viewed tools in 2018 were the variety selection tool (6,593 pageviews), herbicide MOA tool for wheat (2,321 pageviews), herbicide comparison tool (2,204 pageviews), herbicide efficacy table (1,382 pageviews), and the AMS sprayer mix calculator (574 pageviews). The WSU Wheat Beat Podcast was introduced in 2017 with seven episodes. There were 41 new episodes posted in 2018. We are able to communicate directly with more than 900 subscribers to our subscription listserv, which allows us to push information out to people who are interested in our content. The Wheat Academy continues to be highly valued by participants and has sold out within two weeks of opening on-line registration in every year since the inaugural event in 2014. The biggest unforeseen issue to arise during the duration of this project was the low falling number issue in 2016. We responded by providing information on the topic, including four Timely Topic posts that combined were viewed nearly 2,500 times through November of 2016. Additionally, we added a Wheat Quality Resources page to the Wheat and Small Grains website to make it easier for people to find information on this issue.

Quality of Varieties and Pre-Release Lines: Genotype & Environment — “G & E” Study (pdf)
Executive Summary: The 2018 harvest sample analysis is more than half done; the project is on-going with the most recent project covering the past three years. As in previous years, all quality data were/will be analyzed using the t-Score statistic. The quality t-Scores for each soft white winter, club, soft white spring and club, hard red winter, hard red spring and hard white winter and spring varieties are summarized using ‘Grain’, ‘Milling’, ‘End-Product’, and ‘Overall’ Scores. Varieties in each market class/sub-class are then ranked by the Overall Score. All varieties and advanced breeding lines with three or more years of data are included in the final listing.

Using these results and analyses, the WWQL works closely with the WGC to develop the, “Preferred WHEAT VARIETIES for Washington based on end-use quality” each year with annual updates. Completion of the variety rankings in February represents the first significant accomplishment each year We coordinate variety classification with Oregon and Idaho.

Supplemental Support for Assessing the Quality of Washington Wheat Breeding Samples (pdf)
Executive Summary: This WGC support provides for about 3 months of additional technician time. The additional work is devoted to evaluating breeder samples for quality from October through mid-January.

During this period, spring wheat samples are given priority over winter wheat samples. The aim is to coordinate with the WSU Wheat Quality Program, and complete as many analyses as possible before spring wheat planting decisions in early February. In this way, the spring wheat program is made more efficient because inferior quality lines are not planted and grown. The standing goal for WSU winter wheat breeding lines is to complete as many as possible before June 1. Milling and baking evaluations of the 2017-Crop were completed and 2018-Crop testing is well under way at the Western Wheat Quality Lab.

Evaluation of Alternative Technologies for Determinining Falling Number: The Choping ‘Amylab FN’, and ‘Testogram’ Quick Method (pdf)
Executive Summary: Falling Number per se is not a wheat or flour quality problem. Falling Number attempts to predict flour quality performance in various end-products. However, the Falling Number test is deeply entrenched in our marketing and grading system, especially for export. The current Falling Number technology was developed in 1961, and has received minor improvements over the years in hardware and protocol. Chopin Technologies has developed a new instrument that emulates and attempts to improve on the Perten Falling Number. Key features include: 1) no glass tubes, these are replaced with a stainless steel tube that opens at the bottom for easy clean out, 2) no boiling water, the sample tube is heated with solid state direct heat, and 3) no external cooling system required. Two testing protocols are the ‘traditional’ Hagberg-Perten Falling Number, and a quick 90-second ‘Testogram’. The Testogram results are aimed at predicting the Falling Number.

Defining the Relationship Between Falling Number and Sponge Cake (pdf)
Executive Summary: Falling Number per se is not a wheat or flour quality problem. Falling Number attempts to predict flour quality performance in various end-uses. Our 2016 research showed that Falling Number is a poor predictor of end-use quality: cookies (low moisture) are minimally affected, whereas Japanese sponge cake quality is generally poorer with lower Falling Numbers, but there is a large amount of unexplained variation. Falling Number was originally designed to measure α-amylase, but in the context of pre-harvest sprouting (PHS). The relationship between Falling Number, Late Maturity α-Amylase (LMA) and end-product quality are poorly understood. We are addressing the following objectives: Objective 1. Determine the effect of α-amylase and proteases on Falling Number in PHS, LMA and ‘sound’ grain lots. Objective 2. Determine the effect of protein content on Falling Number in PHS, LMA and ‘sound’ grain lots. Objective 3. Determine the effect of α-amylase (alone, LMA) vs. α-amylase when it is accompanied by proteases, lipases and other germination enzymes (PHS).

Barley Improvement for Yield, Adaptation, and Quality (pdf)
Executive Summary: Over the past several years, significant and substantial progress in breeding and varietal development has been achieved within each market class – feed, malting, and food – of barley. A total of five barley varieties have been released: Lyon and Muir in the conventional feed barley class, Survivor in the herbicide tolerant feed barley class, and Havener and Meg’s Song in the hulless food barley class. One substantial change has been the successful use of Lyon barley as an all-malt barley type. Here I will briefly summarize these varieties, and begin by introducing the malt barley breeding update.

Malt barley: Our highest programmatic priority at this point is to release a high-quality, highyielding malt barley variety within the next two years. The preceding sentence is a direct quote from the previous progress report submitted in January 2018. We are now in position to release one to two malting barley varieties, including top experimental lines 11WA- 107.43 and 12WA-120.14. Each of these have high yields, strong agronomic qualities, and excellent malting quality.

Lyon was also released in 2015, with the high rainfall zone (>20”) as its target environment. Across multiple locations over five years (2014-2018), Lyon is consistently (and statistically) among the highest yielding group of barley varieties in the high rainfall locations. Lyon has effectively replaced both Bob and Baronesse in these locations. In addition, in 2018 Lyon was used as a malting barley. It was malted by LINC Malt and beer was brewed by several breweries, including Mountain Lakes Brewery in Spokane, Fremont Brewery in Seattle, Baerlic Brewery in Portland, and Hunga Dunga Brewery and Moscow Brewing Company in Moscow. Demand for Lyon barley malt is increasing, and we anticipate additional breweries utilizing Lyon malt in 2019 and beyond.

Survivor was released in 2017 and in that year was among the highest three yielding varieties topping the high rainfall precipitation zone (4 locations). It is also the only IMI-herbicide tolerant variety available to farmers. We continue to test thousands of herbicide tolerant breeding lines each year to target both the malt and food market classes in addition to the feed barley market class.

Muir was released in 2015 for the <16” rainfall zone. It is resistant to prevalent races of barley stripe rust, and has performed well across the low rainfall zone locations, and quite well in several other locations in the intermediate and high rainfall zones. Muir was intended to replace Bob and Baronesse as the go-to variety in these locations.

Havener, the first hulless food barley released by the WSU Barley Breeding Program which addresses a need for higher yielding hulless varieties with an elevated β-glucan (a hearthealthy soluble dietary fiber) content, has continued to perform well. Developed specifically for human consumption, Havener contains 50 to 75% higher β-glucan than common Washington-grown varieties Lyon, Muir, Champion, Bob and Baronesse. Released in 2015, Havener has higher yields and test weights across all eastern Washington rainfall zones than the hulless variety Meresse.

Meg’s Song was released in 2017, with even higher β-glucan (~7.5%) than Meresse or Havener (~6.0%), and high yields across a broad spectrum of environments. Meg’s Song has excellent tolerance to lodging in the field and has attracted the attention of seed dealers and end-users. It has a substantially different cooking and baking profile than Havener, giving them both a solid foothold on the emerging hulless food barley market.

Control of Strawbreaker Foot Rot and Cephalosporium Stripe in Winter Wheat (pdf)
Executive Summary: Variety trials for eyespot and Cephalosporium stripe were not conducted in 2016-17 due to staff and funding limitations; however, the trials were completed in 2015-16 and 2017-18, and are in progress for 2018-19. A total of 83 new varieties and advanced lines were evaluated for resistance to eyespot and tolerance to Cephalosporium stripe. Data from these plots were used to update disease ratings in the Washington State Crop Improvement Association Seed Buyers Guide and the WSU Extension Small Grains variety selection tool. We streamlined the process used to test varieties by collaborating with the WSU Variety Testing program to identify and test lines that were in their 2nd year of Variety Testing plots and planting head-row plots instead of yield trials. We also solicit advanced lines from WSU Winter Wheat Breeding (including ARS Club-Wheat Breeding) for testing. This approach greatly reduces the space needed for testing, which allows us to test more lines, and reduces labor needed for harvest, but still requires significant labor for destructive sampling and disease rating.

Studies to map disease resistance genes to the eyespot fungi in a population derived from Madsen were conducted to determine whether the same genes control resistance to both pathogens. Although Madsen is one of the first two eyespot resistant varieties released in WA and has been grown for almost 30 years, its resistance to the eyespot pathogens was never mapped because it was not known that there were two different fungal species that caused the disease at the time of Madsen’s release. In addition, we know there are differences in the effectiveness of resistance to these fungi in Madsen and other eyespot-resistant varieties. In collaboration with colleagues in China, we also mapped resistance to cereal cyst nematode (CCN) in the same Madsen population and demonstrated that it carries two different genes, one each to H. avenae and H. filipjevi, both derived from VPM-1, the source of eyespot resistance. Phenotyping and genotyping have been completed and we plan to complete the mapping analysis for eyespot in spring 2019.

Field studies to determine the effectiveness of variety mixtures on eyespot and Cephalosporium stripe were conducted over the past 3 years; the final experiment was planted in September 2018 for disease evaluation and harvest in summer 2019. Disease severity data were collected from all six experiments, but yield data were collected from 4 of 6 experiments due to severe lodging. Data from the first three years (six locations) are being analyzed and conclusions will be presented when all data have been collected and analyzed.

Seed treatment trials for eyespot and Cephalosporium stripe were conducted in 2015-16 and 2016-17; there were no yield or disease control benefits in either year, so the work was not continued. Plots to evaluate foliar fungicides for eyespot were established in 2016 and 2018, but not completed due to a lack of disease and poor stand. We are planning to conduct a trial in spring 2019 in conjunction with a private company if a location with enough disease pressure can be located.

Chemical control of eyespot remains an important option for control and several new products have been registered in the past few years. Some of these contain active ingredients for which we have already screened the eyespot fungi for resistance, but others need to be tested because resistance to them occurs in other plant pathogenic fungi. Due to limitations in funding and labor, we did not make progress on this objective during this funding cycle.

Spore-trapping for the eyespot fungi was conducted over the past three years at the Plant Pathology Farm, Palouse Conservation Field Station, and Spillman Farm to understand the seasonal dynamics of ascospore release, which may contribute to pathogen genetic variation. This study represents more fundamental research to understand the biology of eyespot disease and insure that we have effective control measures going forward, both for stable disease resistance and fungicide sensitivity. Data will be collected through May 2019, summarized and analyzed to conclude this phase of the research.

Enhancing Resistance to Snow Mold Diseases in Winter Wheat (pdf)
Executive Summary: Field plots were established at three locations in WA and one in Tetonia, ID to test advanced breeding lines and three new doubled-haploid populations for snow mold resistance and agronomic performance during this project. We were fortunate to have adequate snow cover at most locations for good disease development that allowed us to collect useful data on disease reaction that allowed us to map QTL for snow mold resistance with a new source of resistance, PI 178384. This material is being used in the WSU Winter Wheat Breeding program now to develop varieties with more effective snow mold resistance. Data from these plots also was used to update variety ratings in the Washington State Crop Improvement Seed Buyer’s Guide and the WSU Small Grains Team online Variety Selection tool.

Fructan concentration was measured on field-grown plants to determine its association with snow mold resistance and identify genes involved in its regulation. Methods for analysis of the sugars were revised and problems with equipment used to collect the data arose, which delayed completion of this objective. However, we are now on track to complete this objective in early 2019. We are also conducting another analysis, RNAseq, to help identify the genes involved in fructan production and resistance.

Work to improve growth chamber screening for resistance was put on hold until results of fructan analysis are complete so we can better understand the conditions needed for expression of this trait.

This is the last year of this project. Much progress has been made in understanding the genetics of resistance and new, promising QTL from PI 178384 was identified. Continued development of snow mold resistant varieties will continue under the WSU Winter Wheat Breeding program.

Management of Nematode Diseases with Genetic Resistance (pdf)
Executive Summary: To determine the distribution of cereal cyst nematode (CCN) in eastern Washington and the Palouse, we surveyed over 300 fields from 2013-2017. Cysts were identified to species level with DNA techniques developed in previous grants. H. filipjevi was only found in southern Whitman County, and H. avenae primarily in eastern Whitman County. We also identified fields with high inoculum levels for use in greenhouse testing. A paper has been submitted for publication

We developed a high throughput greenhouse screening method to identify CCN resistance in wheat. This method assesses roots of young plants grown in cone-tainers containing soil collected from highly infested fields in fall and vernalized at 4 C prior to planting.

We completed resistance testing of 1209 wheat lines from the programs of Carter, Pumphrey, Campbell, and Morris, regional nurseries, and a Campbell mapping population, all in the greenhouse using above method.

From above screening, we identified resistance in 10 to 21% of the advanced winter wheat lines, but less than 2% of spring wheat lines. – We established greenhouse pot cultures of H. avenae and H. filipjevi. These cultures will be grown in the greenhouse to increase nematode populations and then used for screening

We developed KASP markers for QTLs for resistance to H. filipjevi that were identified in a CIMMYT study and assayed the breeding lines that we evaluated above.

We tested SSR markers linked to Cre1, Cre3, Cre5, Cre8, CreX, and CreY genes. These markers may facilitate the understanding of the resistance background of our material.

We imported differential lines for identification of CCN pathotypes from Turkey, increased the seeds in the greenhouse and did initial experiments, but our pathotypes do not exactly match known ones.

Fusarium Crown Rot on Wheat: Prepbreeding and Development of Tools for Genetic Disease Management (pdf)
Executive Summary: A modified method was developed to increase the disease pressure of Fusarium crown rot under greenhouse conditions. This method resulted in less variation and was used to a diverse global spring wheat collection, a set of wheat synthetic lines, a backcross population derived from the spring wheat cultivar Louise and an Iranian land race with multiple root disease resistance and the winter wheat variety trials.

A genome-wide association study (GWAS) was conducted to determine the genetic architecture of resistance to F. culmorum in the global spring wheat collection and QTLs for resistance were identified on chromosomes 1A, 2B, 4D, 5A, 6B, and 7A. Chromosome 2B, 4D, and 7A may reflect novel sources of resistance.

Resistance was discovered in the set of synthetics. Synthetic wheat is derived from crosses between durum wheat and Aegilops squarrosa, the donor of the wheat D genome. Since durum is susceptible, to Fusarium, resistance is from the D genome. This germplasm represents potential new sources of resistance and has been crossed with winter wheat breeding lines from the USDA and WSU breeding programs.

We evaluated the Louise/IWA860877 (AUS285451) backcross population in the field for resistance to Fusarium. The results were skewed towards susceptibility as would be expected from a backcross population but some resistant lines were identified. We are following up to identify the loci responsible for this resistance using QTL analysis.

Evaluation of WSU Wheat Breeding Lines for Management of Hessian Fly Development of DNA Markers for Resistance Breeding (pdf) 
Executive Summary: Hessian fly (HF) infestations continue to cause significant annual yield losses in spring wheat production areas of Washington and neighboring regions of Oregon and Idaho. Hessian fly is in many ways a silent problem. Moderate infestations are not visually striking, and their occurrence is somewhat variable over space and time. Factors such as weather patterns, crop rotation, variety selection, and tillage or conservation practices can impact HF pressure. Infestation may also be a significant barrier to increased conservation tillage practices in Washington. Advanced breeding lines, new sources of resistance genes H13, H26, and two unknown resistance sources, along with winter wheat varieties were screened for Hessian fly resistance in 2018. Backcross populations were developed with four new sources of resistance, and progeny advanced to select homozygous resistant lines. Winter wheat populations and varieties were screened to introgress HF resistance into winter wheat. This project supported the screening of all new entries in WSU Variety Testing Program spring wheat trials.

End-Use Quality Assessment of Washington State University Wheat Breeding Lines (pdf)
Executive Summary: WSU spring and winter wheat variety development programs heavily emphasize selection for superior end-use quality. Quality evaluation of WSU breeding lines has been ongoing for over 50 years. Effective quality testing is essential for the recent release of new varieties from all market classes that are at or near the top of end-use quality rankings. This project supports a scientist to conduct thousands of quality tests per year for the WSU wheat breeding programs in conjunction with the USDA-ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory. The majority of wheat from the PNW is exported to overseas markets. To maintain current markets and penetrate new markets, PNW wheat must possess quality characteristics that make it superior for use in both domestic and overseas markets. Therefore, before it is released, a new variety must be tested to determine if it is suitable for use in specific end-use products. In addition, increased competition from traditional and non-traditional exporters necessitates enhancing the end-use quality of our wheat. The loss of overseas markets would continue to cause a reduction in the demand and therefore the price of wheat, resulting in losses to Washington farmers. Washington wheat growers, as well as grain buyers and exporters, benefit from the availability of wheat varieties that require less inputs and possess superior, consistent end-use quality.

Improving Spring Wheat Varieties for the Pacific Northwest (pdf)
Executive Summary: The WSU spring wheat breeding program’s elite material and recently released varieties continue to be the top performers is statewide variety trials and for growers. A new 2-gene Clearfield hard red spring wheat is planned for release in 2019. Foundation and registered seed of Ryan, Seahawk, Tekoa, Alum, Chet, and Glee spring wheats and JD and Melba spring club wheats was produced and sold in 2018. Each variety has very good to excellent end-use quality, which is a primary goal of our program to help maintain and increase the value of Washington wheat. WSU soft white spring wheat varieties accounted for 80% of certified soft white spring wheat production acres in Washington in 2018. Our newest soft white spring wheat varieties, Ryan, Seahawk, Tekoa, and Melba, have broad adaptation, superior all-around disease, grain, and agronomic traits, most desirable end-use quality, and top yield performance. They have been rapidly adopted by seed dealers and growers as seed stocks are multiplied. Glee has been the leading dryland hard red spring wheat variety in the state the past five years, while Chet has been widely adopted in lower rainfall areas and Alum is rapidly increasing in acreage. WSU hard red spring wheat varieties were planted on 28% of the certified hard red spring wheat production acres in Washington in 2018. The consistency, broad adaptation, disease and pest resistances, sound grain traits, most desirable end-use quality, good falling numbers, and overall performance puts of comprehensive wheat breeding and genetics research effort supported primarily through funding from this project.

Greenhouse and Laboratory Efforts for Spring Wheat Variety Development (pdf) 
Executive Summary: This project is an integral component of the Spring Wheat Breeding program. This project provides funding to make crosses and develop breeding populations in the greenhouse, staff support for management and selection of breeding materials in the field and greenhouse, and supports/enables the most effective end-use quality selection procedures for development of superior Washington spring wheat varieties. In addition to routine early-generation grain quality selection carried out through this project, we apply DNA marker technology to elite breeding materials, and conduct research projects of direct relevance to our breeding efforts. This project also supports our two-gene Clearfield and AXigen breeding efforts, Fusarium head blight resistance gene introgression, Hessian fly resistance gene introgression, and expanded irrigated hard red spring wheat breeding efforts. Our progress in each of these areas is substantial, and these outputs shape our overall breeding efforts.

A Genetic Arsenal for Drought Tolerance, Getting to the Root of the Problem (pdf)
Executive Summary: Lignin content and accumulation in stems, leaves and roots has been linked with different stress tolerances in crop plants. Lignin confers rigidity to plant cell walls, and increases in response to drought, heavy metals, salinity, and pathogen attack. Therefore, managing overall lignin content, as well as its proportion in the roots versus shoots of crop plants is important for improved stress tolerance. Few studies have investigated the role of lignin in grass root systems at present. Reports on maize and wheat showed that lignin content in the root was higher than in the shoot, and that these levels varied depending on genotype. In wheat, lignin concentration was shown to decrease in seedlings and roots when exposed to mineral deficiencies and increase in response to toxic minerals. Given these findings, our preliminary results, there is a need to further investigate the role of lignin in roots. The overall goal of the project is to determine the role of lignin in wheat roots for drought tolerance and disease resistance and to develop a high-throughput method for lignin analysis is wheat roots and straw. We have worked on processing stem and root tissues for overall lignin content using two independent assays as well as sending pulverized stem and root tissues for analysis of monomers to the Zhang lab at WSU-TC. We had good success with lignin extraction in stems, but are still working on lignin extraction from root tissues. We have also begun to implement drought studies using the Phenospex drought spotter in the wheat greenhouse. In the next two years, we will refine the methodology and complete the analyses on the Lou/Au backcross populations in terms of lignin content, drought performance, and disease resistance for soil-borne pathogens.

Developing Washington Wheat with Stable Hagberg Falling Numbers (pdf)
Executive Summary: The goal of this project is to breed for stable Falling Numbers (FN) in Washington wheat through selection for genetic resistance to preharvest sprouting and late maturity alpha-amylase (LMA). The project identified cultivars with low FN problems through evaluation of the WSU cereal variety trials, and with sprouting and LMA problems through greenhouse and field testing. We have identified molecular markers linked to PHS resistance and are in the process of identifying molecular markers linked to LMA resistance loci to allow selection in as many as 5000 early breeding lines per year. We are improving field and greenhouse testing for use in screening elite breeding lines.

Objective 1. Identify varieties with stable FN by performing FN tests and statistical analysis of variety trials in environments that have preharvest sprouting and/or LMA FN data from the soft white winter WSU variety trials was analyzed using five statistical methods designed to examine how traits are impacted both by genetics and the environment. FN is difficult to analyze due to the fact that it impacted by multiple environmental factors leading to preharvest sprouting or to LMA. The factor analytic model seemed to provide the best approach to compare both how well a variety performs for falling number and how stable that falling number is over changing environments.

Objective 2. Screen winter and spring wheat breeding lines for preharvest sprouting and/or LMA. In 2018, 1,335 lines were screen for LMA susceptibility using in the field, and 708 lines were screened for preharvest sprouting susceptibility by spike-wetting test.

Objective 3. Identify molecular markers linked to LMA susceptibility in northwest wheat. a. We have completed three greenhouse and two field experiments screening the 250 lines of the spring TCAP population for LMA. b. Based on one greenhouse experiment, 3 of 10 spring RIL populations and 3 of 20 winter RIL populations were chosen as good candidates for LMA mapping.

Objective 4. Develop molecular markers for selection of PHS resistance in northwest wheat. A preliminary genome-wide association mapping was conducted. Some loci linked to good seedling emergence did not correspond to loci for preharvest sprouting resistance, suggesting that we may be able to select preharvest sprouting resistant without compromising seedling emergence. Molecular markers associated with preharvest sprouting resistance will be confirmed using spike-wetting tests of 461 doubled haploids descended from parents in the original association mapping study.

Intelligent Prediction and Association Tool to Facilitate Wheat Breeding (pdf)
Executive Summary: We update two software package and published two articles partially under support of this project in this fiscal year. The two software package are GAPIT (Genome Association and Prediction Integrated Tool) and iPat (integrated Prediction and Association Tool). Both of the packages can be used to conduct GWAS (Genome Wide Association Study) and GS (Genomic Selection). GAPIT is R Package for users with programming skills in R language. Analyses can be programmed to process large amount of analyses with same settings. iPat has graphic user interface. Breeders can simplify use any computer pointing device to drag their datasets into the interface and then click on the graphical icons for analyses. Bot of these packages implemented the two new methods we published in 2018 by Wang and et al. (Heredity, 121, 648–662). We also publish an article on Wheat Life in November of 2018 entitled “Empowering breeders for success”.

2017-2018 WSU Wheat & Barley Research Progress Reports to the Washington Grain Commission

Plant Protection

Variety Selection & Testing

Full Report

2017-2018 WSU Wheat & Barley Research Progress Reports (pdf)

Washington State University