NIAB will be presenting two areas of their work. The NIAB Crop Transformation team will be demonstrating how to genetically modify plants, in particular wheat. The BBSRC funded Community Resource for Wheat Transformation project provides capacity for 50 genes to be transformed into wheat for UK plant scientists. This will provide novel candidate gene leads validated in wheat, which the wheat breeding community can develop in the future, either through GM or traditional breeding approaches. We have also extended the transformation technology to many UK spring and winter wheats, increasing the value of this research to UK agriculture.
The pre-breeding team at NIAB is extending the bread wheat gene pool by understanding, exploiting and incorporating novel genetic diversity from wild and cultivated relatives of bread wheat as part of the BBSRC funded WISP programme. Extensive genetic diversity is available within a very accessible gene pool that includes diploid goat grass (Aegilops tauschii) and tetraploid wheats such as wild and cultivated emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccoides and T. dicoccum) and durum or pasta wheat (T. turgidum). To capture this diversity, novel synthetic hexaploid wheat (SHW) are being made by NIAB and, alongside diverse tetraploid wheats, are being crossed with UK bread wheat varieties. We are creating UK-adapted ‘pre-breeding’ material which will be available to the wheat community.