Speed breeding is a powerful tool to accelerate crop research and breeding

DFW researchers from JIC collaborated with researchers in the University of Queensland and The Plant Breeding Institute, Australia to develop protocols for rapid generation advancement, dubbed ‘speed breeding’. By manipulating the light regime, we were able to achieve significantly accelerated generation times (at least twice as fast) for a large range of crop plants (wheat, barley, rapeseed, pea, chick pea, and grass pea) and their wild model relatives (Brachypodium and Medicago). We demonstrated that speed breeding can be carried out in glasshouses fitted with supplementary light, in commercially available controlled environment rooms, and in a cost effective home-made LED lit growth room. Importantly, we showed that the speed breeding conditions permit a faithful study of a range of adult plant phenotypes and allow the plants to be crossed with comparable efficiencies to glasshouse grown plants. Before publication, the protocols were requested by colleagues in academia (n=24) and industry (n=10) from 15 different countries. Upon publication, the response was overwhelming – the study, which was portrayed on the front cover, rapidly achieved an Altmetric score of >800 (one of the best in Nature Plants to date) and it was featured on the BBC World Service, BBC Look East, BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, The Times, Newsweek, National Geographic, etc, with translations into Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Russian, reaching an estimated audience of >7 million. We expect that speed breeding will be widely adopted as an enabling tool and promote crop plant research.