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Revolutionizing wheat - HPI's leap in breeding technologies
Kansas Ag Connection - 02/09/2024

Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI), based at the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, is revolutionizing wheat breeding through innovative technologies, particularly double haploid breeding. This technique simplifies the breeding process and shortens the time needed to develop new wheat varieties with improved agronomic, quality, and nutritional traits, as discussed on the "Wheat's on Your Mind" podcast.

HPI, founded in 2009, was created by Kansas farmers and a coalition of private companies and universities to maintain wheat's competitiveness with corn and soybeans. By fostering industry collaboration, HPI has become a vital player in wheat innovation.

HPI's success is attributed to its double haploid process, a breeding tool that uses genetic material from the female parent to produce genetically uniform plants. “We’re basically rescuing a very tender, very delicate haploid embryo and culturing it and taking care of it until it becomes a viable seedling,” Gallagher explained.

This process, which allows for a population of plants with identical genetics to be created in a single year, is a game-changer for wheat breeders seeking to advance high-quality lines more efficiently.

With the capacity to produce 20,000 double haploids annually, HPI serves a wide array of clients across the United States, including both public and private wheat breeding programs.

The company's fee-for-service model ensures its services are accessible to the entire wheat breeding community, promoting the development of profitable wheat varieties for producers.

HPI uses advanced breeding tools like genotyping and marker-assisted selection for wheat breeding, based on strong agricultural partnerships. Gallagher emphasizes the need for continued investment in wheat research by both private and public sectors to unlock its full potential.

As HPI looks to the future, Gallagher remains optimistic about discovering more within the wheat genome to benefit agriculture. “I really don’t believe that we have tapped the genetic potential of wheat,” she stated, underscoring the importance of ongoing research and collaboration to bring forth new wheat varieties that can meet the challenges of tomorrow.

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