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Trait physiology and crop modelling as a framework to link phenotypic complexity to underlying genetic systems

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Hammer, G. L., Chapman, S. C., van Oosterom, E. J. and Podlich, D. W. (2005) Trait physiology and crop modelling as a framework to link phenotypic complexity to underlying genetic systems. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 56 (9). pp. 947-960. ISSN 1836-0947


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/AR05157


New tools derived from advances in molecular biology have not been widely adopted in plant breeding for complex traits because of the inability to connect information at gene level to the phenotype in a manner that is useful for selection. In this study, we explored whether physiological dissection and integrative modelling of complex traits could link phenotype complexity to underlying genetic systems in a way that enhanced the power of molecular breeding strategies. A crop and breeding system simulation study on sorghum, which involved variation in 4 key adaptive traits—phenology, osmotic adjustment, transpiration efficiency, stay-green—and a broad range of production environments in north-eastern Australia, was used. The full matrix of simulated phenotypes, which consisted of 547 location–season combinations and 4235 genotypic expression states, was analysed for genetic and environmental effects. The analysis was conducted in stages assuming gradually increased understanding of gene-to-phenotype relationships, which would arise from physiological dissection and modelling. It was found that environmental characterisation and physiological knowledge helped to explain and unravel gene and environment context dependencies in the data. Based on the analyses of gene effects, a range of marker-assisted selection breeding strategies was simulated. It was shown that the inclusion of knowledge resulting from trait physiology and modelling generated an enhanced rate of yield advance over cycles of selection. This occurred because the knowledge associated with component trait physiology and extrapolation to the target population of environments by modelling removed confounding effects associated with environment and gene context dependencies for the markers used. Developing and implementing this gene-to-phenotype capability in crop improvement requires enhanced attention to phenotyping, ecophysiological modelling, and validation studies to test the stability of candidate genetic regions.

Item Type:Article
Subjects:Science > Biology > Genetics
Science > Botany > Plant physiology
Live Archive:05 Feb 2024 00:44
Last Modified:05 Feb 2024 00:44

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