Fusarium head blight (FHB) of wheat (Triticum aestivum
L.) results in discolored Fusarium damaged kernels (FDK) contaminated with deoxynivalenol (DON). DON accumulation, a primary measure of FHB resistance, can be used as a basis for selection, but testing each genotype in several genetically variable populations is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, FHB resistance breeding decisions are routinely based on in-field phenotypic evaluation. However, using an optical sorter as an alternative to in-field evaluation, mass selection (MS) for FHB resistance can be quickly performed post-harvest. The objective of this study was to utilize an optical seed sorter to select breeding lines with enhanced FHB resistance (lower DON and FDK values). Three hundred F4
derived breeding lines were grown in an inoculated disease nursery over several years in Lexington, KY. Grain from each breeding line was sorted using an optical seed sorter calibrated to reject scabby (discolored) seed. The accepted (non-scabby) seed was used to plant subsequent generations. DON and kernel damage traits were lowered each cycle of line selection with the optical sorter. Our findings suggest that optically sorting grain may be an effective breeding strategy for lowering DON accumulation and limiting kernel damage associated with FHB.
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