HeDWIC capitalizes on decades of research in plant stress and rapidly emerging technologies to advance the frontier of breeding. It delivers new technologies to wheat breeders worldwide via the International Wheat Improvement Network (IWIN), involving public and private research organizations in over 90 countries, facilitated for more than half a century by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). Together, we are creating future wheat.
In 2020, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) committed to funding the project “Harnessing translational research across a global wheat improvement network for climate resilience” representing a major pillar of HeDWIC through September, 2025. The project addresses 9 research gaps through 9 correlated research goals using multiple approaches (including translational research, pre-breeding, breeding, and testing and validation through the International Wheat Improvement Network, described below). Read more about this FFAR project here and at Reynolds et al., 2021.
HeDWIC uses a translational research approach (Fig 1) to facilitate targeted research and test and deliver new germplasm across a range of realistic environments (see Global Network). The key components of this platform are linked to create an infrastructure that will enable utilization of transformative technologies and innovative thinking across a range of disciplines, as well as coordinate the efforts of HeDWIC collaborators worldwide and ensure timely delivery of outputs. Human capacity building will be integrated into all of these research activities, testing and delivery components.
As part of the translational research approach, a core HeDWIC pre-breeding engine (Fig 2, 3) is currently run by CIMMYT as part of the FFAR project, with initial funding from Mexico’s ministry of agriculture (SADER) as part of the Trigo para Mexico (formerly called MasAgro-Trigo) project. This effort examines current breeding material as well as diverse collections held in germplasm banks and applies genomic and phenotypic approaches to identify superior genetics for heat, drought and other key traits. The strategy is to avail this novel diversity in the form of pre-bred lines suitable for use in breeding programs.
Figure 2: Pre-breeding pipeline incorporating diverse genetic resources into elite widely adapted materials and delivering semi-elite high-value germplasm as the stress adaptive trait yield nurseries (SATYNs) to countries around the world. Reprinted from Reynolds et al., 2021 under license CC-BY.
Figure 3: Different streams of a pre-breeding pipeline for spring wheat breeding at CIMMYT, including selection with and without fungicide treatment, marker-assisted backcrossing, and speed breeding. Lines undergo genomic selection and rust screening, and are further examined for agronomic traits routinely at the F4:7 stage, though these examinations may occur in earlier generations depending on the model and needs. Lines with good trait values as well as rust resistance are included in the stress adaptive trait yield nurseries (SATYNs), for global distribution through the IWIN, while those that have good trait value, but are susceptible to rust, are recycled into the program through trait nurseries and germplasm panels used in crossing. Reprinted from Reynolds et al., 2021 under license CC-BY.
As part of the HeDWIC translational research approach, HeDWIC builds on decades of breeding and collaborative research on abiotic stress coordinated by CIMMYT, which has been supported by numerous agencies (see Funding) and initiatives including HeDWIC’s FFAR project, Mexico’s Ministry of Agriculture (SADER), the CGIAR Trust Fund [in particular the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) & the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Australia’s Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC), Germany’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)], the International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) and others.
HeDWIC has a growing group of active stakeholder scientists from universities, research institutes, and CGIAR centers, many of whom participated in its conceptualization. Heat and drought are only getting worse in wheat production areas making the HeDWIC agenda all the more urgent.