Breeding, Genomics, and Agronomy Research to Improve Oat Yield and Quality
Oat is an important, multi-purpose cereal in Canada that is grown for grain, straw, forage, or land cover. Oat grain is regarded as a healthy human food, largely due to the presence of betaglucan (BGL) and other soluble fibers in the oat groat, which have been implicated in reduced risk of heart disease, lowered blood pressure, and lowered risk of type-II diabetes. Grain yield, groat content (i.e., milling yield), and BGL content are key targets for improvement. Protein, test weight, and kernel weight are considered secondary targets for improvement. Additionally, oat millers require a groat oil content of less than 8% to meet the FDA healthy food labeling requirements. To achieve high and stable yield and quality, lodging resistance is required under high-yielding environments, and resistance to crown rust is required in some production regions.
Development of Markers Linked to Oat Crown Rust Resistance to Help Breed Improved Varieties for Saskatchewan Producers
The largest on-going threat to oat production in Canada (and worldwide) is the fungal pathogen Puccinia coronata Corda f. sp. avenae Eriks which causes oat crown rust. In Canada, yield losses averaged 5.1% from 2001 to 2005 (Chong et al. 2008) with the highest loss reported at 11.2% (McCallum et al. 2007).