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Doctoral thesis2024Open access

Exploring the genetic toolbox for climate-resilient spring wheat : drought impact on yield, breadmaking quality, nutritional value and toxicity

Lan, Yuzhou


Climate change is posing challenges to wheat production worldwide through increasing frequency of drought events. In southern Sweden, summer drought typically coincides closely with the reproductive growth stages of wheat, the most critical period for final yield. This thesis characterised the drought tolerance of wheat from a broad set of genetic materials, based on traits relating to yield, breadmaking quality, nutritional value and toxicity. The possibility of using biostimulants to enhance grain yield of wheat under drought was also explored. 

Late drought was found to restrict grain yield to a greater extent than early drought. Old Swedish cultivars and wheat lines carrying chromosome 1R had significantly longer roots during early stage, enabling better access to water. However, there was a strong connection between this long-root trait of old and 1R genotypes and elevated grain cadmium content, posing a possible risk to food security. There was generally a negative correlation between protein concentration and grain yield. However, high grain protein content and high grain yield were observed in some wheat lines carrying chromosome 3R, indicating opportunities for breeding high-protein varieties without compromising yield. Lines with 3R possessed advantageous attributes in terms of minerals, with high zinc and iron concentrations. High grain selenium concentration was observed in lines carrying chromosome 1R, suggesting unique nutritional values of those wheat-rye introgression lines compared with modern wheat. Use of biostimulants (chitosan, hydrolysed wheat gluten and potato proteins) had positive effects on grain yield in wheat grown under drought. 

The new information provided in this thesis on utilising genetic resources from distant relatives of wheat and ancient wheat can be applied to improve the environmental resilience of modern wheat, while applying biostimulating compounds can be a fast, cost-effective way of sustaining wheat growth during drought.


Wheat; drought; grain yield; breadmaking quality; nutritional value; heavy metal content; biostimulant

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2024, number: 2024:47ISBN: 978-91-8046-034-7, eISBN: 978-91-8046-035-4
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Agricultural Science

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