Coleoptile length comparison of three winter small grain cereals adapted to the Great Plains


Successful crop stand establishment is critical to realize high yield potential, which is dependent on depth of seed placement to access soil moisture. The coleoptile determines sowing depth by its length and ability to emerge from depth. This study was conducted to assess coleoptile length among three sets of three Great Plains winter small grain cereals—wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) and triticale (X triticosecale Wittm.)—and to evaluate the effect of the Rht-B1b dwarfing allele on coleoptile length in wheat and triticale. Fifty seeds of each genotype were sown in wet germination paper in two replications utilizing a randomized complete block design, which were placed in dark growth chambers at 25°C. Measurements were conducted after 7 d, and analysis of variance and comparison of least square means for coleoptile length among and within each set of genotypes were performed in Statistix 8.1 software using Fisher’s protected least significance difference at the α = 0.05 significance level. Results revealed that triticale had the longest coleoptiles, which were significantly longer (P < 0.05) than those measured in both barley and wheat. Additionally, significant variation in coleoptile length (P < 0.05) was also found within each set of wheat (3.52–6.41 cm), barley (4.32–6.63 cm) and triticale (4.05–6.92 cm) genotypes, respectively. These findings confirm other reports that the presence of the Rht-B1b allele was pleiotropic for coleoptile length, but development of semi-dwarf wheats with longer coleoptiles is possible if breeders deploy concurrent selection strategies.

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P.S. Baenziger received partial financial support from the Nebraska Agricultural Experiment Station and the Nebraska Wheat Development, Utilization, and Marketing Board. Partial funding for P.S. Baenziger was from Hatch project NEB-22-328, AFRI/2011-68002-30029, the CERES Trust Organic Research Initiative, and USDA under Agreement No. 59-0790-4-092 which was a cooperative project with the U.S. Wheat & Barley Scab Initiative. M. Alam acknowledges the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan for providing funds for the research and learning and thanks Dr. P.S. Baenziger for providing research facilities.

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MA conducted the experiment, including the measurements, statistical analysis and helped write the manuscript. AE assisted in seed acquisition and reviewed the manuscript. FW assisted with DNA extractions, conducted genotyping and provided SNP analysis. JDB interpreted data, provided guidance and helped write and review the manuscript. PSB conceived the project, interpreted data, supervised and reviewed the manuscript.

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Correspondence to J. D. Boehm Jr..

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Alam, M., Kashif, M., Easterly, A.C. et al. Coleoptile length comparison of three winter small grain cereals adapted to the Great Plains. CEREAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS (2021).

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  • Coleoptile length
  • Seedling emergence
  • Rht1
  • Wheat
  • Triticale
  • Barley