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WGRF Approves $3.8-Million Breeding Tools Initiative

Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) has approved an Endowment Fund Directed Research Program fund of $3.8 million over the next five years for an initiative to develop genomic tools, increase genomic capacity, and enhance the use of doubled haploid in cereal crop-breeding programs.

Most Canadian breeding programs already utilize some doubled haploid and genomic technology. However, the full potential of these technologies is not being fully exploited because implementation has not kept pace with changing technology. Breeders currently rely on marker technology with limited throughput capacity, restricting breeding programs to evaluating only a few marker-trait combinations in a few targeted plant populations.

Greater use of genomic technologies will mean faster, more accurate identification of the best genes available in seed germplasm to breed into varieties for commercial production. Doubled haploid technology accelerates the cycle of crop breeding. Together, these technologies can get improved varieties into farmers’ fields quicker and add to the producer’s bottom line.

“WGRF is excited about the impact this breeding tools initiative can have for producers,” says Don Dewar, WGRF vice-chairman and chairman of the Endowment Fund Advisory Committee. “The potential to accelerate the crop breeding cycle and speed the release of improved varieties to market is a worthwhile and powerful investment for producers to make.”

The research initiative being funded is a joint initiative being led by Curtis Pozniak at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre, and Franois Eudes and Dr. Brent McCallum, both with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC).

This is one of many important strategic research initiatives WGRF will fund through the Endowment Fund Directed Research Program on behalf of western Canadian crop producers.

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