Impact of Phenotypic Traits on Yield Performance and Design of Improved Rice Cultivars
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The goal of the proposed research is to improve the process of developing superior performing plant cultivars, increase understanding of how crops respond to different forms of stresses caused by climate, insects and plant diseases. Most of the research discussed herein is applicable to a very wide range of crops.Most plant breeders create and eliminates thousands of lines every year, keeping plants that appear to offer a significant yield increase while matching the breeder''s view of an optimal plant ideotype, and discarding those that do not. Selection for further evaluation or elimination is based on an extremely limited amount of data during the early stages of selection. A line can be misclassified as good or bad, respectively, due to plot-to-plot variation in soil type, seeding depth, soil-nutrients, and biotic stresses. Our research has led to the development of a physiologically based rice crop simulation model that is being used to aid in defining the "best" combination of plant traits to achieve increased grain yield. Our model results backed by field data clearly shows that rice yield is increased much more rapidly by selecting genotypes with increase early season vegetative growth, instead of yield alone. Our data also clearly shows that the efficiency of plant breeding program can be greatly improved by shifting the focus of plot evaluations from yield to traits that are responsible for yield.A major aspect of the proposed research willfurther our research in this area. We will also continueto identify which primary phenotypic traits in hybrids can be predicted based on traits values of the inbred parents.The greater the number of traits that can be predicted, the greater will be our ability to accurately predict which traits to combine in a hybrid to increase yield.New to our research will be experiments thatfocus onimproving our understanding of how rice canopy architecture impacts crop growth, development, yield and grain quality, and the degree with which architectural traits are inherited from male and female plants. Also new are experiments that are expected to determine the degree with which silicon uptake is genetically inherited and influenced by soil silicon augmentation. Silicon uptake in rice has a major impact on the potential for injury from insects and diseases. In general, the higher the amount of silicon that is taken up by a rice genotype, the lesser the amount of injury from insects and diseases. But less well known is how uptake is influenced by the associated uptake of the male and female parent plants.The response ofsilicon uptake bydifferent ricegenotypesto stem borer insect feeding injury will be examined as part of the proposed research.