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Development of high yielding, Eastern Canadian winter wheat cultivars and germplasm with increased resistance to FHB and leaf diseases and good agronomic and quality performance

Principal Investigator: Ljiljana Tamburic-Illincic

Research Institution: University of Guelph (U of G)

Timeline: April 2020 – March 2023   


  • Development of Canadian Eastern soft red winter (CESRW) germplasm and cultivars with high yield, required quality characteristics and increased resistance to diseases and tolerance to cold, drought and lodging.
  • Development of Canadian Eastern white winter (CEWW) germplasm and cultivars with high yield, required quality characteristics and increased resistance to diseases and tolerance to stresses.
  • Improvement of FHB symptoms, FDK level and DON accumulation, in two classes of winter wheat, by developing new resistant breeding lines and cultivars and generating FHB data for MAS and QTL validation.


  • Growers will have an opportunity to grow improved, high yielding winter wheat with increased resistance to FHB and other diseases, increased tolerance to stresses and good quality characteristics.
  • Better marketing opportunities for wheat produced in Ontario and other regions of Eastern Canada.
  • Reduced toxin levels in the grain at farm gate.
  • More consistent winter wheat yield and quality, even during FHB and different leaf disease epidemics.
  • Lower yield and quality loss due to developed germplasm and/or cultivars with increased resistance to cold and drought tolerance, lodging, diseases and DON accumulation.
  • Public and private breeders will benefit from germplasm developed and it will be available for new crosses.

Scientific Summary:

In this proposal our goal is not to identify new Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) but to  validate QTLs identified by our research group (and other research groups), across our breeding lines, and use previously identified markers in Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) for faster development of new and improved cultivars.  We propose to develop new Canadian Eastern soft red winter (CESRW) and Canadian Eastern soft white (CESW) winter wheats for Eastern Canada, mainly Ontario and Quebec, with 5% better resistance to FHB than ‘Marker’- official moderately resistant (MR) check named by the Ontario Cereal Crop Committee (OCCC), 5% higher yield than averaged yield for ‘Branson’ and ‘Ava’ (official agronomy checks named by OCCC).

Every year our new doubled-haploid (DH) winter wheat lines will be planted in Ridgetown in single rows, plus DH lines from the previous year in one-replication yield plots in Ridgetown and in replicated, multi-location preliminary and advanced yield trials in Ontario (Ridgetown, Tupperville and Winchester). We will evaluate cold and drought tolerance, lodging, heading date, maturity, plant height, general agronomic performance and disease resistance. After harvest, winter wheat will be tested for yield and kernel characteristics (i.e., test weight, thousand kernel weight and protein level), while a selected number of advanced lines will be tested for additional quality characteristics by SGS Agriculture and Food. New wheat cultivars will be registered with CFIA/VRO, licensed to seed companies and available to growers and industry.

Finally, we propose to develop winter wheat breeding lines (germplasm) for two wheat classes, with increased resistance to specific diseases, lodging, and cold and drought tolerance. For cultivar development we will focus on crosses with ‘native’ or elite sources, because they have good quality and higher yield compared to ‘exotic’ wheat and improved breeding lines will be identified faster. For germplasm development we will use both ‘native’ and ‘exotic‘ sources with unique disease resistances and stress tolerances. Developed breeding lines will be immediately available to public and private breeders for new crosses.

External Funding Partners:

OMAFRA – U of G Partnership


The project was funded in part by the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, a collaboration between the government of Ontario and the University of Guelph.