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Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI)
Federal Research Centre
for Cultivated Plants

Temporary Head
Dr. Thilo Hammann

Groß Lüsewitz
Rudolf-Schick-Platz 3a
18190 Sanitz, Germany

Ms Annett Sitte
Tel: +49(0)38209 45-200
Fax: +49(0)38209 45-222

Gabriele Platek
Tel.: 038209 45-100
Fax: 038209 45-120

E-mail: zl@  jki.bund.  de

Institute booklet

Genetics of valuable traits

The way a valuable trait found in a plant genetic resource (PGR) can be introduced into adapted breeding germplasm of a given crop plant essentially depends on how the trait is inherited. Thus, genetic analysis of the trait’s variation is a fundamental step in exploiting plant genetic diversity for breeding and improving crop species.

Once a potentially valuable trait expression has been observed in a PGR the genetics behind this trait may have great impact on devising a strategy for making it accessible to plant breeding. The number of genes involved in trait expression, the dominant or recessive action of such genes and their individual contributions to final trait expression, their accessibility to marker-assisted selection, their genetic linkages to neighboring genes which would exert undesirable impacts on crop plant performance (linkage drag) – these and more aspects have to be considered when devising a strategy for using gene variants in PGR to further improve our crop plants.

Genetic investigations of a novel anthracnose resistance in yellow lupin

Greenhouse resistance test of yellow lupins. Susceptible plants with twisted main shoot (left) and resistant, symptom-free plants (right) two weeks after inoculation with Colletotrichum lupini
Testing resistance of yellow lupins in the field. In the foreground, left, the susceptible - and severely infested - cultivar 'Amiga' (white lupin); on the right for comparison the resistant yellow lupin cv. 'Taper'

Among the lupins agriculturally used in Central Europe, the yellow lupin (Lupinus luteus) has the highest seed protein content and is suitable for cultivation even on the lightest soils. Unfortunately, the varieties of yellow lupin cultivated in Germany to date are highly susceptible to the seed-borne disease anthracnose, caused by the fungus Colletotrichum lupini. Hence, breeding and cultivation of this potentially valuable lupin species has practically come to a standstill in Germany.

We are investigating whether there is breedable resistance to anthracnose in genetic resources of yellow lupin. To this end, we conduct resistance tests in the greenhouse using a special procedure that provides the anthracnose pathogen with optimal conditions for infecting the test plants. In the course of these tests, the Polish varieties 'Taper' and 'Legat' proved to be free of symptoms. Three years of field trials at the JKI test site in Groß Lüsewitz confirmed a high resistance level of the 'Taper' variety. The genetic heredity analysis showed that the resistance in 'Taper' is controlled by a monogenic dominant factor, which we designate Llur. Applying next-generation sequencing techniques we develop molecular markers linked to resistance which are suitable to be used in breeding programmes. In combination with breeding research on agronomical yield-relevant traits and frost tolerance we strive to pave the way for a reintroduction of yellow lupin as a crop plant in Germany’s agriculture.

Dr. Brigitte Ruge-Wehling