Recurrent selection for kernel weight in spring wheat

Jochum J. Wiersma, Robert H. Busch, Gary G. Fulcher, Gary A. Hareland

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64 Scopus citations


Increasing kernel weight has been proposed as a method to increase flour extraction in spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Recurrent selection was initiated to increase kernel weight while maintaining genetic variation for the unselected traits. Our objectives were to determine (i) genetic gain for kernel weight after eight cycles of selection, (ii) the indirect effects of the selection for kernel weight on other agronomic traits, kernel morphology, milling fractions, and grain protein concentration, and (iii) the level of genetic variability among lines within selection cycles for kernel weight and unselected traits. Ten lines, selected for high kernel weight, were originally intermated to form the base population. About 20 F2 plants with the highest kernel weight were selected (∼2% of the population), and about three of their F3 progeny were intermated to form the next cycle. This procedure was repeated for eight cycles, with an average of 60 crosses per cycle. Forty random lines from each cycle were used to evaluate agronomic traits in three environments. Kernel weight increased linearly at about 4.5% cycle-1. Cycle means did not differ for plant height and grain yield, but tillers per square meter and kernels per spike decreased 2.4 and 1.6% per cycle, respectively. Spikelets per spike, kernels per spikelet, test weight, and days to heading decreased, whereas spike length increased in response to selection for kernel weight. The proportion of bran and shorts creased, and flour extraction and grain protein concentration increased 0.58 and 0.16% cycle-1, respectively. No clear trend towards decreased genetic variance for kernel weight was observed since gain was linear over eight cycles. The observed gain from selection and heritability estimates point to kernel weight being controlled by several genes with small effects. Selection for increased kernel size in this population resulted in increased flour yield.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1005
Number of pages7
JournalCrop Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


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