Breeding progress for pathogen resistance is a second major driver for yield increase in German winter wheat at contrasting N levels

Zetzsche, Holger GND; Friedt, Wolfgang GND; Ordon, Frank GND

Breeding has substantially increased the genetic yield potential, but fungal pathogens are still major constraints for wheat production. Therefore, breeding success for resistance and its impact on yield were analyzed on a large panel of winter wheat cultivars, representing breeding progress in Germany during the last decades, in large scale field trials under different fungicide and nitrogen treatments. Results revealed a highly significant effect of genotype (G) and year (Y) on resistances and G × Y interactions were significant for all pathogens tested, i.e. leaf rust, strip rust, powdery mildew and Fusarium head blight. N-fertilization significantly increased the susceptibility to biotrophic and hemibiotrophic pathogens. Resistance was significantly improved over time but at different rates for the pathogens. Although the average progress of resistance against each pathogen was higher at the elevated N level in absolute terms, it was very similar at both N levels on a relative basis. Grain yield was increased significantly over time under all treatments but was considerably higher without fungicides particularly at high N-input. Our results strongly indicate that wheat breeding resulted in a substantial increase of grain yield along with a constant improvement of resistance to fungal pathogens, thereby contributing to an environment-friendly and sustainable wheat production.

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Zetzsche, Holger / Friedt, Wolfgang / Ordon, Frank: Breeding progress for pathogen resistance is a second major driver for yield increase in German winter wheat at contrasting N levels. 2020.

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