A fresh look at the genes behind grain weight in spring bread wheat

To meet the demand for wheat from a rising and quickly urbanizing population, wheat yields in farmers’ fields must increase by an estimated 1.5% each year through 2030.

Of all the factors that influence yield, grain weight is the trait that is most stable and heritable for use in breeding improved wheat varieties. Breeders measure this by thousand grain weight (TGW).

Over the years, molecular scientists have made efforts to identify genes related to increased TGW, in order to speed up breeding through marker-assisted selection (MAS). Using MAS, breeders can select parents that contain genes related to the traits they are looking for, increasing the likelihood they will be passed on and incorporated in a new variety.