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Evaluating genetic diversity for heat tolerance traits in Mexican wheat landraces

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Large areas of wheat (Triticum aestivum L. Fion et Paol.) are grown under above-optimal temperatures causing significant yield reductions. Adaptation of wheat to such areas through genetic improvement is a way of increasing production in those regions. To identify new and novel sources of heat tolerance, 2,255 Mexican wheat landraces, grown for seed regeneration under semi-controlled conditions in the screenhouse, were evaluated for leaf chlorophyll content (LCC). The landraces were collected from areas with seasonal high temperatures. Based on these initial results, two subgroups of 127 landraces each were selected, one with high LCC values and one with low LCC values. During 1997 the selected subgroups were grown in the screenhouse and in field trials in Cd. Obregon, Mexico. The landraces were evaluated for traits associated with heat tolerance: LCC, canopy temperature depression, and thousand-kernel weight (KWT). The objectives of the study were to identify new sources of heat tolerance and to assess the feasibility of combining basic seed regeneration with characterization for needed traits like heat tolerance. A highly significant correlation was found between LCC in the screenhouse and in field trials, indicating the promise of using a screenhouse for cost effective evaluation of heat tolerance traits. This strategy could be used to identify regions or groups of germplasm that merit more intense screening. Highly significant correlations were also found between LCC and KWT. Three landrace cultivars with superior and consistent LCC values were identified. These accessions are potentially useful sources for improving heat tolerance in cultivated wheat.

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Hede, A., Skovmand, B., Reynolds, M. et al. Evaluating genetic diversity for heat tolerance traits in Mexican wheat landraces. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 46, 37–45 (1999).

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  • evaluation
  • genetic diversity
  • heat tolerance
  • landraces
  • leaf chlorophyll content
  • Triticum aestivum L