An international team of researchers has successfully identified traits to improve crop yields for breeders through unraveling the genomes of 418 diverse samples of rapeseed from across the world. The study is a four-year joint effort between scientists from Australia, China and the United States.
Approximately 7.5 million tons of canola is produced annually worldwide, according to Purdue University. In Canada, “canola ending stocks are forecast to close marketing year 2021/22 at just 15 per cent of the five- year average, driven by reduced yield due to drought and strong global demand for oilseeds,” shared a report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).
With rapeseed coming in as the second most important oil-producing crop globally, “breeders are looking at ways that they can generate plants with the desired characteristics or traits that will allow them to minimize crop losses and maximize crop yields,” stated Jacqueline Batley, an author on the paper and professor at the University of Western Australia’s (UWA) School of Biological Sciences and The UWA Institute of Agriculture.
Researchers unraveled the genomes from different geographical locations to represent global genetic diversity. The study was then able to identify the genes of 56 traits that were altered during rapeseed improvement.
“Taken together, our study revealed a landscape of genomic variation for diverse varieties and artificial selection or adaptation during rapeseed breeding. The results are a real insight into the make-up of rapeseed and should help accelerate future breeding for crop improvement,” Batley concluded.
Batley believes the genetic sequencing generated from the study could be an important database for rapeseed research, in addition to the value it brings for genome-edited rapeseed breeding.
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