GrainsWest Winter 2020

Winter 2020 Grains West 8 THE FARMGATE Serioussupport forgrainscience Saskatchewan crop researchers receive huge cash infusion RESEARCHERS FROM THE University of Saskatchewan (U of S) have been awarded major funding in support of cutting-edge crop research geared to ultimately improve characteristics such as yield and disease resistance in wheat. Ag- riculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and National Research Council Canada scientists as well as collaborators in Cana- da and the United States will also work on the project. Professor and wheat breeder Curtis Pozniak along with AAFC molecular geneticist Sylvie Cloutier are co-leading a four-year project titled 4D Wheat that was awarded $4 million by Genome Canada with additional funds from government and industry topping $11.2 million. The amount includes $1.9 million from the three Prairie wheat commissions and $2.8 million from AAFC. The Alberta Wheat Commission’s share of the funding is $600,000. “Our project is focused on developing strategies to maximize use of genetic re- sources in wheat breeding,” said Pozniak. The project will focus on durum wheat, spring wheat and winter wheat. Simply put, this next big thing in wheat genomics research will identify genes that will be of use to breeders and ultimately produce new varieties to benefit farmers. These genes may provide resistance to disease or drought. Launched in October 2019, the project involves the use of germplasm from the seeds of wild wheat relatives and historical landraces used by early farmers. Research- ers will study the DNA sequencing of these plants and use this information to design strategies to support wheat breeding. “What we’re trying to do is gain access to the good genes present in wild relatives U of Swheat breeder Curtis Pozniak is co-leader of the 4DWheat project, an ambitious genetics initiative.