Speed breeding to supercharge our future crops
Dr Eric Dinglasan, Post-doctoral Researcher, QAAFI, The University of Queensland
The growing human population and a changing environment have raised significant concern for global food security, with the current improvement rate of several important crops inadequate to meet future demand. This slow improvement rate is attributed partly to the long generation times of crop plants. Here, we present a method called ‘speed breeding’, which greatly shortens generation time and accelerates breeding and research programmes. Speed breeding can be used to achieve up to 6 generations per year for a range of crops, instead of 2–3 under normal glasshouse conditions. We envisage great potential to integrate speed breeding with other modern breeding technologies, including high-throughput genotyping, genome editing and genomic selection. Using simulations based on real wheat data sets we exemplify how a combination of genomic selection and speed breeding (SpeedGS) can substantially reduce the length of the breeding cycle and maximise genetic gain per unit time. We outline the opportunities and challenges associated with the fusion of these breeding tools to achieve sustainable long-term genetic gain.