UC Riverside-led research could revolutionize hybrid breeding in agriculture
Genomic prediction, a new field of quantitative genetics, is a statistical approach to predicting the value of an economically important trait in a plant, such as yield or disease resistance. The method works if the trait is heritable, as many traits tend to be, and can be performed early in the life cycle of the plant, helping reduce costs.
Shizhong Xu is a professor of genetics at UC Riverside.
Credit: Xu Lab, UC Riverside
Now a research team led by plant geneticists at the University of California, Riverside and Huazhong Agricultural University, China, has used the method to predict the performance of hybrid rice (for example, the yield, growth-rate and disease resistance). The new technology could potentially revolutionize hybrid breeding in agriculture.
The study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a pilot research project on rice. The technology can be easily extended, however, to other crops such as maize.
"Rice and maize are two main crops that depend on hybrid breeding," said Shizhong Xu, a professor of genetics in the UC Riverside Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, who co-led the research project. "If we can identify many high-performance hybrids in these crops and use these hybrids, we can substantially increase grain production to achieve global food security."
Genomic prediction uses genome-wide markers to predict future individuals or species. These markers are genes or DNA sequences with known locations on a chromosome. Genomic prediction differs from traditional predictions in that it skips the marker-detection step. The method simply uses all markers of the entire genome to predict a trait.
"Classical marker-assisted selection only uses markers that have large effects on the trait," Xu explained. "It ignores all markers with small effects. But many economically important traits are controlled by a large number of genes with small effects. Because the genomic prediction model captures all these small-effect genes, predictability is vastly improved."
Without genomic prediction, breeders must grow all possible crosses in the field to select the best cross (hybrid). For example, for 1000 inbred parents, the total number of crosses would be 499500.
"It is impossible to grow these many crosses in the field," Xu said. "However, with the genomic prediction technology, we can grow only, say, 500 crosses, then predict all the 499500 potential crosses, and select the best crosses based on the predicted values of these hybrids."
Xu noted that genomic prediction is particularly useful for predicting hybrids because hybrid DNA sequences are determined by their inbred parents.
"More cost-saving can be achieved because we do not need to measure the DNA sequences of the hybrids," he said. "Knowing the genotypes of the parents makes it possible to immediately know the genotype of the hybrid. Indeed, there is no need to measure the genotype of the hybrid. It is fully predicted by the model."
When the researchers incorporated "dominance" and "epistasis" into their prediction model, they found that predictability was improved. In genetics, dominance describes the joint action of two different alleles (copies) of a gene. For example, if one copy of a gene has a value of 1 and the other copy has a value of 2, the joint effect of the two alleles may be 4, indicating that the two alleles are not additive. In this case, dominance has occurred. Epistasis refers to any type of gene-gene interaction.
"By incorporating dominance and epistasis, we took into account all available information for prediction," Xu said. "It led to a more accurate prediction of a trait value."
Genomic prediction can be used to predict heritable human diseases. For example, many cancers are heritable and genome prediction can be performed to predict disease risk for a person.
Xu was joined in the research by Qifa Zhang and his student Dan Zhu at Huazhong Agricultural University, China.
Next the research team, led by Xu and Zhang, will design a field experiment to perform hybrid prediction in rice.
The research was funded by a grant to Xu from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a grant to Zhang from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.
The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.
Iqbal Pittalwala | Eurek Alert!
Fighting a destructive crop disease with mathematics
21.06.2017 | University of Cambridge
Unusual soybean coloration sheds a light on gene silencing
20.06.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology