A new high-yielding and stress-tolerant winter wheat variety has been submitted to the State Variety Testing Commission in Turkmenistan. This is the upshot of four years of international research collaboration and multi-location trials in Central Asia. According to scientists, the new variety called 'Davlatli' boasts resistance to salinity, frost, heat and drought, which are the main abiotic stresses to winter wheat production in many parts of Central Asia. Turkmenistan's Grain Research Institute has been the key national research partner in the collaborative effort.
The research team is upbeat about the result for two reasons. One is that wheat is a staple crop in the region and its production is directly linked with food security. As the new variety carries genes from Aegilops squarrosa, it has a rare combination of tolerance to multiple abiotic stresses (salinity, frost, drought and heat). And this makes 'Davlatli' especially suitable for dryland conditions.
Second, it is a result of a joint research effort in Central Asia led by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the German Federal Enterprise for International Cooperation (BMZ/GIZ). The germplasm of the new variety originally comes from the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in Mexico and selections were made at the International Winter Wheat Improvement Program (IWWIP) in Turkey up to the stage of an advanced breeding line. Further evaluations were made for yield, quality and agronomic traits in Karshi, Uzbekistan, in 2010 and field evaluations for salinity tolerance were carried out in Karshi and Urgench, Uzbekistan, Krasnovodopad in Kazakhstan and Dashoguz in Turkmenistan in 2011. The research team continued their experiments in 2012 and 2013 in Dashoguz, and initial seed multiplication was conducted in 2014. The new variety was also planted for seed multiplication in the 2014-2015 season in an area of 2 ha in Dashoguz.
This development once again shows how important international collaboration and support is in dealing with wheat production constraints affecting food security in Central Asia. It also paves the way for more cooperation in the region. As Dr Ram Sharma, of ICARDA, said: "Cultivation of 'Davlatli' will help not only Turkmenistan to increase wheat production but also Central Asia as a whole. We hope that other countries can benefit from using 'Davlatli' in wheat research and breeding programs."