The National Small Grains Collection is housed in a state-of-the art, dedicated storage facility at the ARC Bethlehem Campus. It is the largest collection of small grain germplasm on the African continent and includes wheat, barley, oats, triticale and rye accessions. The acquisition of new accessions and the maintenance of the collection is an ongoing focus. Both conventional and molecular techniques are used to identify and characterise desirable traits within the collection. Small samples of requested accessions are made available to bona fide collaborators for research purposes.
A dedicated pre-breeding team is responsible for transferring desirable and useful genetic traits from unadapted donor lines to well adapted South African wheat. This improved germplasm is released to breeders in industry to be used in various wheat breeding programmes for the development of new cultivars. The main pre-breeding focus is currently the inclusion of host plant resistance to various diseases such as cereal rusts and Fusarium head blight and resistance to the Russian wheat aphid.
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