University of Tasmania

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A multisite managed environment facility for targeted trait and germplasm phenotyping

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 14:45 authored by Rebetzke, GJ, Chenu, K, Biddulph, B, Carina Moeller, Deery, DM, Rattey, AR, Bennett, D, Barrett-Lennard, EG, Mayer, JE
Field evaluation of germplasm for performance under water and heat stress is challenging. Field environments are variable and unpredictable, and genotype x environment interactions are difficult to interpret if environments are not well characterised. Numerous traits, genes and quantitative trait loci have been proposed for improving performance but few have been used in variety development. This reflects the limited capacity of commercial breeding companies to screen for these traits and the absence of validation in field environments relevant to breeding companies, and because little is known about the economic benefit of selecting one particular trait over another. The value of the proposed traits or genes is commonly not demonstrated in genetic backgrounds of value to breeding companies. To overcome this disconnection between physiological trait breeding and uptake by breeding companies, three field sites representing the main environment types encountered across the Australian wheatbelt were selected to form a set of managed environment facilities (MEFs). Each MEF manages soil moisture stress through irrigation, and the effects of heat stress through variable sowing dates. Field trials are monitored continuously for weather variables and changes in soil water and canopy temperature in selected probe genotypes, which aids in decisions guiding irrigation scheduling and sampling times. Protocols have been standardised for an essential core set of measurements so that phenotyping yield and other traits are consistent across sites and seasons. MEFs enable assessment of a large number of traits across multiple genetic backgrounds in relevant environments, determine relative trait value, and facilitate delivery of promising germplasm and high value traits into commercial breeding programs.


Publication title

Functional Plant Biology








Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA)


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

Rights statement

Copyright 2012 CSIRO

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  • Restricted

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