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Proteomics of grain yield-related traits in wheat

Can proteomics be used to gain a better understanding of yield-related traits in wheat?

Wheat provides nearly one-fifth of the total dietary calories and protein consumed worldwide. As the global population has risen over the last century, demand for wheat has increased rapidly. In China alone, wheat consumption increased from 19 million tons in 1962 to 123 million tons in 2012. Yet genetic gains in wheat yield have recently slowed. A better understanding of yield related traits will allow us to accelerate genetic gains in wheat and other cereals. One such trait is the number of tillers per plant, as this influences the grain number. The final grain yield is ultimately the product of both the grain number and the kernel weight. Omics methods offer promise in better understanding of traits such as tiller number, particularly in the identification of genes and proteins that are differentially expressed/abundant in different organs, at different growth stages and under different environmental conditions.

Diagram showing the label-free proteomics method used in the study. Image credit: Daba et al.

In their new study published in AoBP, Daba et al. studied the proteome profiles of several plant organs during the grain development process in wheat. Label-free quantitative proteomics was used to analyse seven plant organs (leaves, tiller buds, spikelets, ovaries and kernels at three time points after anthesis) for protein abundance. A total of 3,182 proteins were identified across all the organs. 296 proteins were identified in all the organs. This study demonstrated organ specific detection and abundance of many important wheat proteins that may contribute to tiller formation, spike initiation, and kernel development. The authors hope that the findings from their study will pave way for future in depth research of the different components of yield formation in wheat.

William Salter

William (Tam) Salter is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and Sydney Institute of Agriculture at the University of Sydney. He has a bachelor degree in Ecological Science (Hons) from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in plant ecophysiology from the University of Sydney. Tam is interested in the identification and elucidation of plant traits that could be useful for ecosystem resilience and future food security under global environmental change. He is also very interested in effective scientific communication.

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