Identification of spring wheat with superior agronomic performance under contrasting nitrogen managements using linear phenotypic selection indices
Both the Linear Phenotypic Selection Index (LPSI) and the Restrictive Linear Phenotypic Selection Index (RLPSI) have been widely used to select parents and progenies, but the effect of economic weights on the selection parameters (the expected genetic gain, response to selection, and the correlation between the indices and genetic merits) have not been investigated in detail. Here, we (i) assessed combinations of 2304 economic weights using four traits (maturity, plant height, grain yield and grain protein content) recorded under four organically (low nitrogen) and five conventionally (high nitrogen) managed environments, (ii) compared single-trait and multi-trait selection indices (LPSI vs. RLPSI by imposing restrictions to the expected genetic gain of either yield or grain protein content), and (iii) selected a subset of about 10% spring wheat cultivars that performed very well under organic and/or conventional management systems. The multi-trait selection indices, with and without imposing restrictions, were superior to single trait selection. However, the selection parameters differed quite a lot depending on the economic weights, which suggests the need for optimizing the weights. Twenty-two of the 196 cultivars that showed superior performance under organic and/or conventional management systems were consistently selected using all five of the selected economic weights, and at least two of the selection scenarios. The selected cultivars belonged to the Canada Western Red Spring (16 cultivars), the Canada Northern Hard Red (3), and the Canada Prairie Spring Red (3), and required 83–93 days to maturity, were 72–100 cm tall, and produced from 4.0 to 6.2 t ha−1 grain yield with 14.6–17.7% GPC. The selected cultivars would be highly useful, not only as potential trait donors for breeding under an organic management system, but also for other studies, including nitrogen use efficiency.