The Sunflower Evaluation Project

Evaluation of Sunflower Pre-Bred Lines for Stress Resistance and Associated Trade-Offs with Yield








The project “Evaluation of Sunflower Pre-Bred Lines for Stress Resistance and Associated Trade-Offs with Yield”, is implemented by the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, Canada; National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI), Soroti, Uganda; Indian Institute of Oilseeds Research (IIOR), Hyderabad, India; Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) Buenos Aires, Argentina; MIGAL – Galilee Research Institute, Israel and North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station (NCRPIS), Ames, USA.

Plants are regularly challenged by a variety of environmental stresses such as drought, flooding, salt, and low-nutrient levels that negatively affect plant growth and reduce productivity. Though wild plants have evolved mechanisms to meet these challenges, many crops are less resilient. To reduce stress-induced yield loss and improve food security, attention has increasingly turned to the tapping of genetic diversity in crop wild relatives. Sunflower is an ideal crop for such an approach because the productivity of this oilseed crop is clearly limited by such stresses, while wild relative species are adapted to a variety of extreme environments. 400 pre-bred lines of sunflower were developed from 25 wild donor genotypes as part of a previous project sponsored by the Crop Trust. This project seeks to extend the previous project by evaluating the new pre-bred lines for resistance to three abiotic and three biotic stresses, and to test for negative trade-offs between resistance and yield. Stress-resistant cultivars resulting from this project are expected to stabilize production in developing countries in the face of environmental stresses. Additionally, the project will determine the mechanistic basis stress resistance, the genetic architecture of high oil content observed in some lines and stabilize promising lines through selfing. Sunflower breeders from developing countries will also be strained.

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