Large genetic yield potential and genetic yield gap estimated for wheat in Europe

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Semenov, M. A. and Senapati, N. 2020. Large genetic yield potential and genetic yield gap estimated for wheat in Europe. Global Food Security. 24, p. 100340.

AuthorsSemenov, M. A. and Senapati, N.

Improving yield potential and closing the yield gap are important to achieve global food security. Europe is the largest wheat producer, delivering about 35% of wheat globally, but European wheat’s yield potential from genetic improvements is as yet unknown. We estimated wheat ‘genetic yield potential’, i.e. the yield of optimal or ideal genotypes in a target environment, across major wheat growing regions in Europe by designing in silico ideotypes. These ideotypes were optimised for current climatic conditions and based on optimal physiology, constrained by available genetic variation in target traits. A ‘genetic yield gap’ in a location was estimated as the difference between the yield potential of the optimal ideotype compared with a current, well-adapted cultivar. A large mean genetic yield potential (11-13 t ha-1) and genetic yield gap (3.5-5.2 t ha-1) were estimated under rainfed conditions in Europe. In other words, despite intensive wheat breeding efforts, current local cultivars were found to be far from their optimum, meaning that a large genetic yield gap still exists in European wheat. Heat and drought tolerance around flowering, optimal canopy structure and phenology, improved root water uptake and reduced leaf senescence under drought were identified as key traits for improvement. Closing this unexploited genetic yield gap in Europe through crop improvements and genetic adaptations could contribute towards global food security.

KeywordsCrop modelling; Cultivar trait optimisation; Ideotype design; Sirius wheat model; Wheat improvement
Year of Publication2020
JournalGlobal Food Security
Journal citation24, p. 100340
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeDesigning Future Wheat (DFW) [ISPG]
Publisher's version
Accepted author manuscript
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online14 Nov 2019
Publication process dates
Accepted13 Nov 2019
PublisherElsevier Science Bv
Other fileLarge%20genetic%20yield%20potential%20and%20genetic%20yield%20gap%20estimated%20for%20wheat%20in%20Europe.pdf
RRES Press Release 12 Dec 2019 Untapped genetic potential means wheat yields only 60.pdf

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