Research Team Discovers Genetic Diversity Improves Yield in Hybrid Crop Varieties
An international team of researchers from The University of Western
Australia's Institute of Agriculture and University of Edinburgh's Roslin
Institute has discovered that high levels of genetic diversity and dominant
genes in grain crops such as wheat, barley, or rice lead to the production
of greater yields in hybrid varieties. The study looked at how genetic
diversity affected the yield of hybrid varieties in self-pollinating crops.
Professor Wallace Cowling from UWA's Institute of Agriculture said that
while hybrid varieties produce greater grain yields than their parents,
hybrids were not as successful in self-pollinating crops as in
cross-pollinating crops. "In cross-pollinating crops such as corn or maize,
hybrid varieties produce double the grain yield of the parent varieties.
This isn't the case for self-pollinating crops like wheat, barley or rice,
where hybrid varieties usually produce only 10-15 percent more grain yield
compared to their parents."
The research team modeled different breeding scenarios to improve the yield
of hybrid varieties and they found that it did not matter how the breeding
process started, hybrid breeding pools quickly developed after a few
generations of simulated hybrid breeding. Professor Cowling added that
successful future hybrid varieties were only achieved when the initial
breeding material had high levels of genetic diversity and dominant genes.