AWC - Funded Research

Spotlight on AWC-funded Research

AWC invests in research projects that maximize crop performance. Check out Spotlight on Research, our new publication that highlights AWC-funded projects aimed at boosting your bottom line.

Investing in research that makes sense for farmers 

Click the icons below or type a keyword in the search bar to view AWC-funded research related to your on-farm challenge. Visit our Why invest in research page to learn more about how AWC’s value-added research investments  result in better returns for farmers.    

Integrated management of stripe rust in wheat for Alberta (2019-2022)

Severe epidemics of stripe rust may cause up to 50% yield losses. Stripe rust has been observed every year in western Canada, with serious epidemics reported in 5 of last 10 years. Recent epidemics result from the pathogen overwintering in southern…

Expanding Albertan capacity for Hard Red Spring wheat breeding, and the education of future scientists

This project supports continued research and development activities of the Canadian Western Hard Red Spring (CWRS) wheat breeding program at the University of Alberta. We have released 11 CWRS cultivars and educated many scientists serving the Canadian…

Investigating crop management options to lessen the impact of fusarium head blight in wheat

The importance of using an integrated approach to lessen the FHB issue has been emphasized to prairie producers and industry over the last 10 years. Unfortunately, producer experiences over the last several years have shown that even when using a…

Breeding Improved Canada Western Amber Durum Cultivars

Canada is the largest durum wheat exporter in the world, and exports 80% of its durum production annually. In most years, Canadian durum exports represent 50 to 70 % of world trade. Canadian durum wheat is marketed as the Canada Western…

Development of Canada Prairie Spring - Red (CPSR) Cultivars for Western Canada

Wheat is a major crop in western Canada, grown in rotation with pulses and canola, and is fundamental to sustainable production systems that minimize soil erosion risk and break disease cycles. Wheat production in western Canada is affected by a variety…

Development of Field-Ready Cultivars of Canada Western Soft White Spring (CWSWS) Wheat

Wheat production in western Canada is affected by a variety of diseases with ever-evolving dynamic populations, which causes significant economic losses every year. Due to population shifts and/or mutations, and the appearance of new more aggressive…

Breeding field ready Canada Western Red Spring cultivars for the Eastern Prairies

Wheat is one of the most ubiquitously grown and consumed food in the world. Wheat is a staple food for nearly a third of the world population, and is expected that demand will grow tremendously to feed approximately double the world population by…

Application of Biotechnological Tools to Wheat Breeding

Cultivar development is expensive, labour intensive, and time consuming; many years pass from the time a breeder makes an initial cross to new cultivar release. Applied biotechnology through molecular breeding and doubled haploid production improves…

Improving yield, yield stability and Grade protection in Western Canadian Spring and Durum Wheat Cultivars – An Integrated approach

Over the last 15 years, significant progress has been made at the Crop Development Centre (CDC) at the University of Saskatchewan in the development of high yielding, shorter, stronger-strawed cultivars that meet the needs of evolving crop production…

Pre-breeding and development of breeding tools to diversify disease resistance in bread wheat

There are many diseases of wheat that cause yield losses and reduce grain quality. One way to control diseases is to breed wheat varieties that carry disease resistance genes. Genetic resistance has the benefit of reducing input costs for producers,…

Development of improved winter wheat cultivars for western Canada

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Lethbridge Research and Development Centre has a long history of developing superior winter wheat cultivars (primarily Canada Western Red Winter) that enhance competitiveness and reduce business risk for…

A pre-breeding platform for Canadian wheat improvement

Genetic resistance has long been proven to the best and most sustainable way to mitigate the damage caused to the wheat crop by diseases such as fusarium head blight (FHB), leaf rust (LR), stipe rust (YR) or powdery mildew (PM). For example, pyramiding…

Winter wheat breeding and germplasm development for disease resistance

The University of Manitoba winter wheat breeding program is well established. The primary objectives of the wheat breeding program are to develop Canada Western Special Purpose (CWSP) Winter (30% of material) and Canada Western Red Winter (CWRW) …

2017 Alberta Weed Survey

Weed surveys of annual crops have been regularly conducted in the Prairie Provinces since the 1970s. The objectives of this project are to conduct a general and a herbicide-resistant weed survey in Alberta in 2017. The project will document shifts…

The population structure of Fusarium pathogens of small grain cereals, their distribution and relationship to mycotoxins

Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a fungal disease affecting cereal crops in Canada that reduces productivity and produces mycotoxins in the grain. This fungal disease is caused by a number of Fusarium species. In Canada, Fusarium graminearum is considered…

Harrington Seed Destructor Evaluation at Field Scale in Alberta

Herbicide resistance is increasing in severity across the Prairies. New weed management techniques are needed. Harvest Weed Seed Control (HWSC) is a form of weed control from Australia focussed on managing seeds dispersed by combines. The Harrington…

Development of a multiplex RT-immunoPCR assay and biosensor for the early detection of airborne fungal spores in cereal crops

This project aims to develop a rapid and sensitive method to identify and quantify multiple disease-causing airborne fungal spores in producers’ fields. The method uses antibody-coated microspheres coupled with PCR amplification, to take advantage…

Pesticide impact on soil microbiome: an opportunity to identify microbial candidates for inoculation and field bio-augmentation

This project aims to study the impact of pesticides on soil microbiome under cereal production and identify/isolate microbes thriving under pesticide use and investigate their potential as pesticide degraders. Soil microbes from long-term rotation…

Revisiting the Value of Early Fungicide Applications in Wheat

Fusarium head blight and leaf diseases have become a serious threat to Alberta wheat growers. To manage leaf disease, some growers apply a sub-lethal rate of fungicide tank-mixed with herbicide at early growth stages. Growers consider this as a convenient,…

An efficient system to identify virulence patterns of stripe rust in Canada

Stripe rust is a destructive disease of wheat worldwide; combated mainly through growing resistant varieties. Because rust changes in virulence over a short period of time, constantly looking for non-defeated resistance sources is critical. This is…

Identifying resistance to tan spot disease in winter and durum wheat

Tan spot is a destructive foliar disease of wheat that can damage growing plants anytime during crop development causing millions of dollars in losses. It affects nearly all common and durum wheat cultivars available to Canadian farmers; however,…

Effector based screening for leaf spot complex in Canada

Wheat leaf spot disease complex is widespread across western Canada, and is composed of several fungal pathogens. Two diseases predominate mainly, tan spot and Stagonospora blotch. Each disease is caused by one fungal pathogen and each pathogen produces…

Nanocarrier technology for the next generation of cereal seed Treatments

Our aim is to develop seed coat technology containing nanocarrier complexed RNAi for the suppression of smut and bunt diseases in cereals. Such technology will reduce our dependency on toxic fungicides, resulting in healthier soil microbiomes. This…

Beneficial insects in Prairie crops: quantifying the value and vulnerability of biological pest control

Crop fields support hundreds of insect species, the vast majority of which are not pests. "Beneficials" eat pest insects and weed seeds, pollinate crops, and cycle nutrients. However, most insecticide use targeted at pests harms beneficials and the…

Upcycling a defeated disease resistance R gene of wheat

Given the limited number of effective stripe rust resistance genes available and the ability of the stripe rust pathogen to evolve and defeat current resistance genes, the future looks grim for deployment of effective and sustainable resistance in…

Premium quality hard red winter wheat for western Canada

Winter wheat (WW) production in Western Canada is much lower than current cultivars and agronomic practices would support. With higher grain yield than spring wheat and lower production costs, greater WW acreage could enhance profits, exports, land…

Evaluation and Breeding of Winter Durum Wheat for Southern Alberta

Winter durum wheat has the potential to be a high value, high yielding cereal crop for Alberta farmers. The research objective of this project is to evaluate existing winter durum lines and develop new winter durum populations. Germplasm evaluation…

Precision breeding in wheat mediated by engineered haploid inducers

Our aim is to develop a simple and reliable method of gene editing in wheat and to improve on the current method used by breeders to produce doubled haploids (DH). By having maize deliver gene editing machinery during the maize pollination procedure,…

A Comparative Genomics Approach to Improve Doubled Haploid Breeding for Common and Durum Wheat

Our aim is to develop a more efficient doubled haploid (DH) production process through utilization of isolated microspore culture. Comparative genomics will be applied to screen for important factors critical to the production of DH plants from microspores.…

Assessment and deployment of a new dwarfing gene in red spring wheat

Over the last decade an increasing portion of the Canada Western Red Spring (CWRS) wheat cultivars released have carried height-reducing genes (Rht) while the majority of Canada Prairie Spring (CPS) cultivars have been semi dwarf in stature since…

Genetics and Improvement of Earliness in Canadian Spring Wheat

Early maturity in wheat is important for timely harvest to avoid frost damage and other harvest and post-harvest problems. A better understanding of maturity will help ensure higher and better quality wheat yields for consumers and growers alike.…

Breeding spring wheat for improved Nitrogen Use Efficiency and associated traits

High-nitrogen (N) fertilizer increases yield. It also increases production costs to wheat growers, and excess N fertilizer causes environmental and health risks. The proposed study furthers our previous work to examine the genetics needed to breed…

Expansion of in vitro selection to develop FHB and leaf spot resistant wheat and barley

Plant diseases are responsible for at least 10% of yield losses in global food production. Incidence and severity of two important cereal crop diseases, Fusarium head blight (FHB) and tan spot, are increasing with the impacts of climate change. FHB…

Managing wireworms in southern Alberta wheat fields with crop rotations and beneficial insects

Wireworms are a soil-dwelling pest that attacks wheat seeds and seedlings. The pest has re-emerged as a problem across Canada in wheat and other crops such as potato. This project will contribute to the integrated pest management (IPM) in Alberta…

Canadian Wheat-NAM (Can-NAM): Capturing genetic variation for Canadian wheat improvement

To increase the genetic diversity of the Canadian wheat pool, this research proposes to utilize a proven strategy, nested association mapping (NAM), a multiple-parental breeding population approach to explore synthetic hexaploid wheat (SHW) to enhance…

Tweaking Stomatal Development to Improve Water Use Efficiency and Biomass Production of Wheat Under Drought Stress

Stomata are small openings found on plant surfaces that mediate gas exchange with the surrounding atmosphere. This structure is important for photosynthesis and water use efficiency as they control the amount of CO2 intake and water lost by opening…

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)

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,…

Fusarium graminearum in Alberta wheat and corn: how bad is it really?

Fusarium graminearum is a regulated pest listed on the Alberta Pests Act. There is evidence that the distribution and severity of F. graminearum in Alberta is increasing. It is difficult to accurately pinpoint F. graminearum distribution from seed…

Biology and control of foxtail barley

Foxtail barley is a difficult to control weed that can be managed within a competitive crop rotation, but location in saline areas tends to decrease crop competition, making growers more dependent on chemical control. This research project proposes…

Fighting rust fungal crop threats through integrated genomics research

This 4 year project will analyze 60 Canadian wheat genomes, combined with comparative analysis of available stem and stripe rust information, to select for important virulence factors against wheat. These genomic information will allow for future…

Identifying new genes in domesticated intermediate wheatgrass to improve biotic and abiotic stress resistance and grain quality for wheat

This research project evaluates intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) for disease resistance genes that can be transferred to wheat. A combination of phenotypic evaluation, molecular analysis and intergeneric crossing will assist (1) breeders…

Development of synthetic food bait traps to monitor multiple cutworm pests and minimize bee by-catch

This 3 year proposal aims to develop a trap to monitor cutworms (a pest species that damages several Canadian crops). The goal of this research is to create a food-based lure to attract both sexes of multiple species of cutworm, but not bee pollinators.…

Nitrogen Fixation in Triticale

This two years proposal is a proof of concept for the introduction of the N2 biological fixation pathway into mitochondria of crops. The nitrogen fixation (Nif) cluster will be introduced into triticale mitochondria using short peptide nanocarrier…

An integrated approach to FHB Management in Alberta

This proposed research will investigate an integrated approach to disease management using readily-adoptable agronomic practices alone or in combination to identify management practices that have the greatest impact on FHB severity and losses in southern…

Coordinated surveillance, forecasting and risk warning systems for field crop insect pests of the prairie ecosystem

Insect pest of field crops in western Canada fall into three categories: (i) native insects such as grasshoppers ( all crops), wheat stem sawfly (cereals), lygus (broadleaf crops); (ii) invasive alien species such as wheat midge (wheat and triticales),…

The integration of spring wheat genetics and agronomics to mitigate risks associated with early plantings into cold soils

This investigation will determine if early plantings of cold tolerant cultivars coupled with optimum agronomics will extend the growing season and achieve or exceed attainable spring wheat yield with improved system stability.

Performance and cost of field scouting for weeds and diseases using imagery obtained with an unmanned aerial vehicle

Civilian uses for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are rapidly expanding as the technology is becoming more affordable. Today’ s most common UAVs for professional use are capable of payloads of 1-5 kg, have flight times of 15-30 min. and ranges…

Use of antifungal lipids in crop protection

This project aims to determine whether antifungal lipids are an economically viable alternative to current fungicides in crop protection. Based on the high specific activity of these hydroxy fatty acids, improved control of phytopathogens by antimicrobial…

Biology and Management of Glyphosate-Resistant Kochia

In 2012 and 2013 numerous other fields were confirmed to contain glyphosate-resistant kochia in Alberta and south-western Saskatchewan. There are >50 confirmed glyphosate-resistant kochia sites at this time. Thus, it is quite evident that glyphosate-resistant…