The development of genetic resources for Kazakh bread wheat improvement


    Wheat is world’s 64th most traded commodity and Kazakhstan is a major wheat exporter. The country produces ~16 million tonnes of wheat annually the half of which is exported which allows the country to earn ~$1.2B per season and at the same time to contribute to the sustainable global food supply significantly. Also, wheat is the main grantor of the country’s own food security as most of the local dietary commodities consisted of wheat flour. The high per capita wheat flour consumption (~143kg) in the country compared to Europe (~109kg) is the testament of this. Despite these facts, an average (~1t/ha) wheat grain yield, which is the lowest across the world, has not changed since the reclamation of fallow land (1950-60’s). Moreover, country’s wheat breeding is mainly based on conventional methods compared to the UK’s, which takes advantage of using the most advanced genomic techniques. The genomic approach with combination of other intensive agricultural practices has had a significant positive effect on enhancing the average wheat yield in the UK which doubled from 4 to almost 9 t/ha in the last 60-70 years.

Project goal:  Thus, the aim of this grant proposal is to use such a genetic strategy to develop four bi-parental wheat populations, through crossing the Kazakh and UK commercial wheat varieties, and constructing their high-density genetic maps.

 Expected results: The four bi-parental populations, consisted of 384 genotypes in total, for Kazakh bread wheat and their individual genetic maps, comprised of 35000 SNP DNA markers, developed throughout the implementation of the project will be the main outcomes. Both plant recourse and genetic dataset will be available for local and international wheat breeders and scientists. They are especially beneficial for Kazakh wheat breeders and scientists as each of the four germplasm panels will enable them to pinpoint important genetic factors that they could not segregate through the crossing of highly related local wheat varieties. The genetic maps will provide a great opportunity for those genetic factors of important traits to be mapped to the wheat genome.

Project Manager: Kanat Yermekbayev, PhD, Head of the Molecular Genetics and Genomics Laboratory.

During the year 2022, all experiments were completed to grow F6 plants. In particular, the experiment was designed, CFR form was submitted, F5 plants were germinated and transplanted to grow them in the automated glasshouse in randomised blocks. Novelty and importance of these results are the new methods of generating the germplasm panel and its velocity. It could have taken entire two seasons (two years) if it was done in Kazakhstan without automated plant care facilities.