With increasing demands on the quality and quantity of food required now and in the future, improvements to current agriculture practices are required. Increased food production requires utilisation of more agricultural land, pushing crops into non- traditional areas. The need for advances in agricultural technologies are not only required for current crop varieties, but for new varieties with increased tolerance to environmental stresses. Technological improvement means better crop yields and reduced land, water, fertilizer and pesticide use.
Diversity Arrays Technology (DArT) was used to study wheat diversity, specifically to identify polymorphic markers between various wheat cultivars for use in marker- assisted breeding programs. The hybridisation based technology was used to analyse various bread and durum wheat cultivars for increased understanding of genomic diversity.
Analysis shows that DArT is able to discriminate between tissue samples from wheat cultivars grown under various environmental stresses with polymorphic markers identified between samples treated with differing salt, light and temperature conditions. Epigenetic diversity was analysed through methylation detection using DArT to identify a list of candidate polymorphic markers. Markers were identified using the methylation sensitive restriction enzyme McrBC to generate control and treated targets. Diversity through cultivar exploration, looking at breeding experiments between cultivars with phenotypic extremes to examine salt tolerance versus in-tolerance using DArT produced a recombinant inbred line genetic linkage map. Bulk segregant analysis was also used to group phenotypic samples.
Candidate markers were identified between cultivars that can be used to genotyping tetraploid and hexaploid wheat cultivars for germplasm identification. In addition, the identification of trait-linked molecular markers, such as salt resistance, plant breeders can genotype individual plants and populations of cultivars to determine the most suitable cultivar to plant that best complements to its local environment. This eliminates the need for multiple planting cycles to optimize crop selections, and gives the plant breeder the highest possible chance for crop success (yield, quality, performance and cost).