Seed World

How Ritesh Yadav is Helping Create a New Crop

Meet Ritesh Kumar Yadav (University of Manitoba), a recipient of a 2023 Canadian Plant Breeding Innovation Scholarship!

Yadav, 32, is conducting research into the development of genomic selection models for Fusarium head blight (FHB) resistance and winter hardiness in winter durum, a potential new class of wheat being developed at AAFC Lethbridge Research and Development Centre (Dr. Raja Ragupathy’s breeding program) in collaboration with winter wheat breeders at the University of Manitoba (Dr. Curt McCartney) and AAFC Ottawa (Dr. Gavin Humphreys).

Yadav’s PhD research is part of a winter durum development program being funded by the Western Grains Research Foundation and Sask Wheat. There was a single winter durum cultivar (OAC Amber, 2010) registered in Eastern Canada, and the program at AAFC Lethbridge will provide options for winter cereals growers in Western Canada.

“Genetic improvement of fusarium head blight resistance and winter hardiness, which are two priorities in winter wheat breeding programs, is actually super challenging, due to their complex inheritance. It’s extremely time consuming, labour intensive and costly. The development of robust genomic selection models will exploit the genotypic dataset and reduce cost; it will enable the screening of large durum germplasm with Fusarium head blight resistance and winter hardiness without large scale phenotyping,” he says.

“The selected non-phenotype material can be used for developing elite cultivars with improved FHB resistance using less money, less time and less resources, thus making winter durum cultivars a reality in Canada in the future.”

The Canadian Plant Breeding Innovation Scholarships are sponsored by Alberta Wheat, Alberta Barley, C&M Seeds, Canadian Seed Growers’ Association, FP Genetics, Germination, Nutrien Ag Solutions, Richardson, SaskWheat, SeCan, Warburtons, Western Grains Research Foundation and Seeds Canada.