Oat breeding has been carried out at Gogerddan (IBERS) since the early 1900’s and has been responsible for the introduction of many oat varieties. Radical changes are sought by undertaking breeding and research aimed at novel valuable genetic recombinants. The Quoats project is integrating the use high throughput phenotyping, marker assisted selection and genomics into conventional plant breeding. We are also identifying the physiological reasons why oats have high nitrogen use efficiency, and then intend to develop more efficient oats to enhance the already high environmentally friendly credentials of this crop.
The oat breeding team breeds winter and spring oats (Avena sativa L.) (husked and naked) for food, feed and industrial applications. The programme is funded primarily through the Sustainable Arable Link project “QUOATS” and Technology Strategy Board with varieties developed within the programme marketed by Senova Ltd. Close links with industrial partners enable the assessment of new genetic material and varieties by end-users. The breeding programmes are closely linked with research carried out by the Breeding Methodologies Group.
- Greater economic competitiveness of oats. Obtained through breeding for higher yields, stiff straw (resistance to lodging) and high resistance to diseases such as mildew, crown rust and oat mosaic virus.
- Improved value of the oats for human consumption. By selecting for important components of milling quality such as high kernel content, hullability, low proportion of screenings and minimum grain blackening and breakage. Increased beta glucan content is another desirable target which contribute to the health claims attributed to oats.
- Improved value of oats for ruminants. High metabolisable energy is targeted by breeding oats with thinner husks or with lower lignin content and above average oil content
- Improvements in naked oats for non ruminants and industrial fractionation. Targets are for higher yield, oil and protein content. An additional target is lower trichome density to reduce irritation at harvesting and subsequent grain handling
- Reduced environmental input. An understanding of nitrogen and water use by oats to enable selection of and breeding for more efficient varieties which will contribute to sustainable agriculture.