Towards winter wheat and oat cultivars with low cadmium uptake

Last changed: 08 March 2024

The project in brief

Cadmium, which occurs naturally in the environment, negatively influences plant growth and human health. The goal of this project is to identify genomic regions in winter wheat and oat associated with reduced grain cadmium content, develop diagnostic markers for these regions, and implement the marker use into the official value for cultivation and use (VCU) testing.

Different industrial processes, as well as cadmium-containing phosphate fertilizers, contribute to the accumulation of cadmium in soil. Many factors, such as soil characteristics and precipitation, influence cadmium uptake by plants. There are also considerable differences between different species of plants and between different genotypes within a species. In this project, we aim to conduct multi-year field trials of 200 winter wheat and oat genotypes, respectively using two field trial locations per crop and year. Cadmium content can vary greatly not only between but also within a field. Thus, we will analyze soil samples for cadmium, pH and soil texture, and soil organic matter content every year in each field. Each field will also be scanned by a proximal gamma-ray spectrometry sensor, and sensor data will be calibrated by the laboratory analyzed soil samples. High-resolution mapping of estimated soil cadmium concentrations in the fields will be done by combining soil sample data with soil sensor data. Additionally, the grain samples from each genotype at each location will be analyzed for their cadmium concentration. The phenotypic and genotypic data will then be used to develop genomic breeding tools for the identification of genotypes with a stable low grain cadmium content independent of soil cadmium levels.

The project is expected to have immediate commercial value with direct applications in the ongoing breeding programs, through a prediction model for grain cadmium content and associated markers. The prediction model will allow breeders to screen a larger set of breeding lines at an earlier stage and at a lower cost than is currently possible. Identification of varieties with a stable low grain cadmium content across environments will further expand the areas where these varieties can be grown. The results will benefit the ongoing SLU Grogrund project: Utveckling av genomeditering i livsmedelsgrödor


Project period: 2022-2024

Project coordinator: Therèse Bengtsson

Participating organisations: SLU, Lantmännen