Understanding the genetic mechanisms controlling seed shattering to reduce seed loss in Pastinaca sativa

ISHS Secretariat
Understanding the genetic mechanisms controlling seed shattering to reduce seed loss in Pastinaca sativa

As a member of Cranfield University’s Plant Science Laboratory, Heather is currently completing a PhD project entitled “Reducing seed loss and waste in umbelliferous crops” as part of the FoodBioSystems DTP program in partnership with Elsoms Seeds Ltd. The project focuses on understanding the genetic background of flower and seed development in parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) with a view to developing a marker-assisted-selection pipeline to improve seed production efficiency for current and new varieties. For the III International Symposium on Carrot and Other Apiaceae, Heather presented a poster on a section of her project, which focused on identifying seed shattering phenotypes within parsnip breeding lines. One known source of seed loss in parsnip seed production is the high propensity for mature seed to shatter, separating from the mother plant and falling to the ground where it cannot be harvested. Non-shattering phenotypes have been identified and selected in other crops such as wheat and rice. However, the occurrence and genetic control of this trait in Apiaceae is not well understood. To investigate shattering propensity in current breeding lines, a new method was developed. A mechanical separation technique, previously used in brassica, was adapted for large, field grown plants. This allowed for a quantitative measure of shattering propensity and therefore the ability to distinguish and select lines based on this trait. This also allowed for the production of F2 hybrid plants, offspring of lines with consistently high and low shattering effect, with the aim of genotyping to identify QTLs associated with this trait in parsnip .

Heather Wickson won the ISHS Young Minds Award for the best poster presentation at the III International Symposium on Carrot and Other Apiaceae in the United Kingdom in October 2023.

Heather Wickson, Cranfield University, College Road, Cranfield, MK43 0AL, United Kingdom, e-mail: heather.wickson@cranfield.ac.uk

The article is available in Chronica Horticulturae

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seed loss
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Young Minds Award Winners