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Long-term breeding progress of yield, yield-related, and disease resistance traits in five cereal crops of German variety trials
Wednesday, 2021/12/01 | 07:09:11

F. LaidigT. FeikeB. KlockeJ. MacholdtT. MiedanerD. Rentel & H. P. Piepho

Theoretical and Applied Genetics December 2021; vol. 134: 3805–3827


Key message

Considerable breeding progress in cereal and disease resistances, but not in stem stability was found. Ageing effects decreased yield and increased disease susceptibility indicating that new varieties are constantly needed.


Plant breeding and improved crop management generated considerable progress in cereal performance over the last decades. Climate change, as well as the political and social demand for more environmentally friendly production, require ongoing breeding progress. This study quantified long-term trends for breeding progress and ageing effects of yield, yield-related traits, and disease resistance traits from German variety trials for five cereal crops with a broad spectrum of genotypes. The varieties were grown over a wide range of environmental conditions during 1988–2019 under two intensity levels, without (I1) and with (I2) fungicides and growth regulators. Breeding progress regarding yield increase was the highest in winter barley followed by winter rye hybrid and the lowest in winter rye population varieties. Yield gaps between I2 and I1 widened for barleys, while they shrank for the other crops. A notable decrease in stem stability became apparent in I1 in most crops, while for diseases generally a decrasing susceptibility was found, especially for mildew, brown rust, scald, and dwarf leaf rust. The reduction in disease susceptibility in I2 (treated) was considerably higher than in I1. Our results revealed that yield performance and disease resistance of varieties were subject to considerable ageing effects, reducing yield and increasing disease susceptibility. Nevertheless, we quantified notable achievements in breeding progress for most disease resistances. This study indicated an urgent and continues need for new improved varieties, not only to combat ageing effects and generate higher yield potential, but also to offset future reduction in plant protection intensity.


See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00122-021-03929-5


Figure 1

Applied average nitrogen rate in intensity 1 (I1) and 2 (I2) and treatment frequency index (TFI) for herbicides applied to I1 and I2, fungicides and growth regulators applied in I2 and for WR in I1. WW Winter wheat, WTI Winter triticale; WR Winter rye; WB Winter barley, 2r two-row, 6r six row varieties; SB Spring barley

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