Heat stress has large implications on cereal production in South Australia with stressful temperatures during spring having large negative impacts on the grain yields achieved by producers.
Producing a truly heat stress tolerant variety that not only maintains grain yield but also minimizes physical grain quality defects will be difficult to achieve, but incremental improvements through an increased understanding of heat stress interactions with physiology, adaptation and genetic tools will have very real and significant impacts on improved varieties into the future.
Australian Grain Technologies: Paul Telfer, Haydn Kuchel, Cassandra Bell, James Edwards, Dion Bennett and Andrew Cecil.
Heat stress causes significant losses for South Australian grain growers.
Field studies, controlled environment trials and genetic analyses were performed to better understand heat stress tolerance and provide information to help breeders develop new heat tolerant varieties.
The purpose of this project was to advance knowledge from previous heat stress research to assist breeders in developing varieties with increased heat stress tolerance for growers.
The core objectives of the project were to determine:
In the field
A set of 24 Australian genotypes with different levels of heat stress tolerance was grown at 13 locations in South Australia and Victoria in the 2013 and 2014 growing seasons, with climatic conditions calculated for every plot in each experiment during both flowering and grain filling.
Studies were also performed in controlled environments, where plants grown from local and exotic germplasm were stressed for three consecutive days, 10 days after the end of anthesis. This involved temperatures of 36 degrees Celsius and winds of 40 kilometres per hour.
QTL (quantitative trait locus) analysis was conducted on populations developed from these studies to attempt to determine genetic influences for heat stress tolerance. A QTL is a part of the genome that influences a quantitative trait, such as heat tolerance. This analysis was performed at three locations; Angas Valley, Roseworthy and Winulta, in the 2015 growing season.
The field work conducted in this project confirmed the negative impacts of heat stress on grain yield, with large negative impacts in grain yield resulting from heat stress during flowering and grain fill.
The various genotypes showed different responses to the heat stresses experienced across the range of environments. Some genotypes showed promising levels of heat stress tolerance during grain filling but lower relative tolerance to heat stress during flowering, confirming that the interactions of heat stress with different physiological processes is complex. It also indicates that combining these different tolerance mechanisms may improve adaptation to heat stress conditions.
Exotic lines were identified through the controlled environment testing that potentially provide novel sources of tolerance, and these were used to create populations that can be used to identify the genetic source of this heat stress tolerance.
QTL mapping of these populations identified eight QTL which were found to be significantly associated with field performance at all three sites, with a number of these significant enough to be targeted for further investigation.
Value for growers
Key findings in this project have been: