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Sustainability 2011, 3(3), 500-517; doi:10.3390/su3030500

The Soil Microbial Community and Grain Micronutrient Concentration of Historical and Modern Hard Red Spring Wheat Cultivars Grown Organically and Conventionally in the Black Soil Zone of the Canadian Prairies

1
Department of Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, 410 Agriculture/ Forestry Centre, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2P5, Canada
2
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, 751 General Services Building, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H1, Canada
3
Department of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5A8, Canada
4
Lethbridge Research Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 5403 1st Avenue South, Lethbridge, AB, T1J 4B1, Canada
Current address: School of Food Systems, North Dakota State University, Harris Hall 223, Fargo, ND 58105, USA; E-Mail: Dilrukshi.Thavarajah@ndsu.edu.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 January 2011 / Revised: 26 February 2011 / Accepted: 2 March 2011 / Published: 4 March 2011
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Breeding for Sustainable Agriculture)
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Abstract

Micronutrient deficiencies in the diet of many people are common and wheat is a staple food crop, providing a carbohydrate and micronutrient source to a large percentage of the world’s population. We conducted a field study to compare five Canadian red spring wheat cultivars (released over the last century) grown under organic and conventional management systems for yield, grain micronutrient concentration, and soil phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profile. The organic system had higher grain Zn, Fe, Mg and K levels, but lower Se and Cu levels. There was no trend in the results to suggest that modern western Canadian hard red spring cultivars have lower grain micronutrient content than historical cultivars. Wheat cultivar choice is important for maximizing grain nutrient levels, which was influenced by management system. It is evident that the emphasis on elevated grain quality in the western Canadian hard red spring class has resulted in the retention of micronutrient quality characters. Three fungal PLFAs were indicators for the organic system, and all three of these indicators were positively correlated with grain Cu concentration. In the organic system, percent arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi were negatively correlated with grain Zn and Fe concentrations, and positively correlated with grain Mn, Cu, K concentrations and grain yield. The organic system had higher levels of fungi in the soil, including arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Organic management practices appear to result in elevated levels of grain micronutrient concentration. The hard red spring breeding effort in and for the black soil zone of the northern Great Plains also appears to have led to no diminishment of grain micronutrient concentration. It is evident that both the agronomic system and breeding strategies in this region can be exploited for future increases in grain micronutrient concentration.
Keywords: Triticum aestivum L.; organic agriculture; conventional agriculture; micronutrients; antioxidants; phospholipid fatty acid analysis; arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi Triticum aestivum L.; organic agriculture; conventional agriculture; micronutrients; antioxidants; phospholipid fatty acid analysis; arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nelson, A.G.; Quideau, S.A.; Frick, B.; Hucl, P.J.; Thavarajah, D.; Clapperton, M.J.; Spaner, D.M. The Soil Microbial Community and Grain Micronutrient Concentration of Historical and Modern Hard Red Spring Wheat Cultivars Grown Organically and Conventionally in the Black Soil Zone of the Canadian Prairies. Sustainability 2011, 3, 500-517.

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