AWC - Funded Research

Filling Gaps in Wheat Cultivar Development with Translational Research which pertains to activity 4.3.1 of the Genome Canada project entitled Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics (CTAG2)

AWC contribution: $600,000


This 4 year proposal aims to translate the latest innovative genomic technologies to the wheat breeding programs. The research will focus on the deployment of new innovative technologies including a DNA marker breeder chip as a new selection tool, and recommendations on its use that are appropriate to develop improved wheat cultivars adapted to the prairie environment. The DNA breeder chip will be trained to predict phenotypic performance of wheat breeding lines in the field with the specific goals of accelerating wheat grain yield by improving efficiency of maintenance breeding.


To develop a “Wheat Breeder Chip” of at least a 1,000 DNA markers (vs the 5-10 currently in use)

Benefit to producers:

Technologies will allow breeding programs to make improvements in preventing crop losses from disease, insects and by protecting quality (enhancing gluten strength, reducing DON) and preventing grade losses associated with pre-harvest sprouting. While the technology developed in the proposed research plan will likely not be commercialized in the next 3-5 years, the outcomes will have benefit in the form of higher yielding germplasm and in the form of commercial cultivars over the longer term (6-10 years).


Dr. Richard Cuthbert is a spring wheat breeder for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada based in Swift Current, Saskatchewan.  He is the leader of the Swift Current CWRS, CPS and Hard White wheat breeding programs.  Richard’s research program focuses on combining agronomic traits, pest resistance and end-use quality in wheat using cutting edge technologies efficiently.  Wheat varieties developed by his team account for about 40% of the wheat grown in Canada.

Dr. Curtis Pozniak is a Professor and Wheat Breeder at the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre and has been a faculty member since 2003.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA) in 1999 and a PhD in plant genetics and breeding in 2002 from the University of Saskatchewan. In the past decade, he has released seven new wheat cultivars including CDC Verona, the first new durum variety to be released by the Crop Development Centre in 19 years.  Dr. Pozniak’s research links basic research on the genetics and expression of agronomic, disease resistance and end use quality traits with his applied research in the development of improved durum and spring wheat cultivars.  He has developed novel DNA tests that allow wheat breeders to more precisely choose wheat plants with desirable attributes. He and his team also contributed to sequencing the wheat genome.  This ground breaking accomplishment is expected to unlock genetic secrets and enhance wheat production.  He is project leader for the Genome Canada Funded CTAG (completed in 2015) and CTAG2 (2015-2019) projects.  Both projects will lead to the development of genomic tools to improve selection efficiency in wheat breeding. Dr. Pozniak has been recognized for his work in genomics and breeding with several significant awards—the Young Agronomist award from the Canadian Society of Agronomy, New Researcher Award from the University of Saskatchewan, the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence, and the Saskatoon Achievement in Business Excellence (SABEX) Award of Innovation. His seminal, ambitious and cutting-edge work is having significant impacts on farming practices related to one of the world’s most important crops.