Winter hardiness as breeding aim for oilseed rape cultivation under changing climatic conditions (Jan-Christoph Richter)

The aim of the present project is to improve the winter hardiness of winter oilseed rape (Brassica napus L.) so that even under adverse weather conditions high oil yields can be obtained. Among the abiotic stress factors, winter hardiness is an important trait, because its inheritance is complex and selection can be performed only in years with strong winters. A reduced shoot elongation before and during winter has been identified as a key factor for improved winter hardiness. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the genetic diversity and to study the inheritance of winter hardiness, specifically considering vernalization requirement and shoot development before and during winter. Furthermore, SNP-markers closely linked to those traits are to be identified to allow for fast and efficient breeding of competitive winter oilseed rape cultivars with improved winter hardiness. To determine the genetic variation for winter hardiness, vernalization requirement and shoot elongation before and during winter a set consisting of 300 genetically diverse winter oilseed rape genotypes will be assembled by participating breeding companies. For evaluation of winter hardiness and shoot elongation field experiments will be performed in two years in Germany but also in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic and in the Ukraine. For determining the vernalization requirement and shoot elongation field experiments in spring and greenhouse experiments will be performed. The genotypes will be characterized on the molecular level by using the Illumina Infinium Brassica 15K/60K SNP-Chip with the aim to identify SNP markers closely linked with the traits of interest. The inheritance of winter hardiness, shoot elongation and vernalization requirement as well as the usefulness of the identified SNP markers will be investigated and validated in two suitable segregating doubled haploid populations.