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Stacking Fhb1, photoperiod/anthesis and plant height genes in elite winter wheat lines using genomic tools and evaluate yield performance of lines in different groups

Principal Investigator: Ljiljana Tamburic-Ilincic

Research Institution: University of Guelph

Timeline: May 2023 – October 2025  


  • To use previously developed bi-parental wheat population, which segregates for FHB and DON and was genotyped, to estimate the relationship between Fhb1 resistant lines genotyped for plant height genes (Rht8) and photoperiod/anthesis gene (PPd-D1) and agronomic performance.
  • To investigate if there are yield penalties associated with Fhb1 and plant height (tall vs. short).
  • To investigate if there are yield penalties associated with Fhb1 and photoperiod/anthesis (sensitive/late vs. insensitive/early lines).
  • To validate selected lines with/without Fhb1 (3BS) for FHB, Fusarium damaged kernels-FDK and DON after inoculation with Fusarium graminearum.
  • To develop improved germplasm or cultivars.


  • Growers will have opportunity to grow high yielding Eastern Canadian soft red winter wheat with increased resistance to FHB and overall good yield and quality.
  • Better marketing opportunities for wheat produced in Ontario (Canadian Eastern soft red class is important for domestic processing).
  • Reduced losses to farmers and grain handlers due to lower DON levels and a more stable supply of safe low-DON wheat for robust domestic and export processing markets.
  • More stable winter wheat yield and quality due to a reduction in downgrading (lower prices for farmers).
  • Potential for less fungicide use due to new germplasm/cultivars with increased resistance to FHB that could also mean fewer field passes needed to apply those fungicides (which also has a carbon benefit from fuel and fungicide production).

Scientific Summary:

Wheat is a major food crop. Fusarium head blight (FHB) is an important wheat disease. Winter wheat has higher yield potential than spring wheat. The economic loss from FHB is high. Currently, we have moderately FHB-resistant wheats in Ontario but a higher level of resistance is needed. FHB-related traits (visual symptoms, Fusarium damaged kernels (FDK) and deoxynivalenol (DON)) are influenced by multiple genes or quantitative trait loci (QTL) with medium effect. Two mechanisms of resistance to FHB: type І (reduces initial infection) and type ІІ (prevents spread within the spike following infection), are a major focus for most breeders. Breeding high yielding winter wheat with short, strong straw and good FHB resistance is a challenge for breeders. Rht8c/Ppd1 linkage group (2D) is used in breeding wheat to improve the adaptability to areas with hot and dry conditions. With increasing temperature during wheat development, wheat with this linkage group is important for growers.

A double haploid (DH) winter wheat population ‘25R51’ x ‘Triumph’ (102 lines) will be used in this study. The population was genotyped using an Illumina 90K Bead chip platform based on single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) technology and also screened with selected KASP markers. Fhb1 (3BS) is a major gene/QTL from ‘Sumai 3’ (parent of ‘25R51’). The population segregated for Fhb1, plant height/Rht8 gene and for photoperiod/anthesis (2D QTL). An effective use of molecular markers is marker assisted selection (MAS). Our goal is to select lines according to:1) 3BS (Fhb1) as resistant vs. susceptible, 2) photoperiod/anthesis gene (sensitive/late and insensitive/early) and 3) plant height gene (short and tall). We will evaluate performance of selected lines, in each group, for agronomic and quality traits. MAS will be validated for Fhb1, in inoculated FHB nursery, and we will evaluate lines for FHB symptoms, FDK and DON. The final goal is to develop winter wheat germplasm/cultivars.

External Funding Partners:

This work was supported by Mitacs through Mitacs Accelerate Internship.