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Theor Appl Genet. 2017 Nov;130(11):2411-2429. doi: 10.1007/s00122-017-2967-4. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

Breeding progress, genotypic and environmental variation and correlation of quality traits in malting barley in German official variety trials between 1983 and 2015.

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Bundessortenamt, Osterfelddamm 80, 30627, Hannover, Germany.
Biostatistics Unit, Institute of Crop Science, University of Hohenheim, Fruwirthstrasse 23, 70599, Stuttgart, Germany.
Bundessortenamt, Osterfelddamm 80, 30627, Hannover, Germany.


Evaluation of breeding progress for spring barley varieties in Germany showed that both grain yield and malting quality were considerably improved during the last 33 years, and that genetic effects of protein concentration and malting traits were not associated. Based on historical data, this study aimed to investigate yield potential and malting quality of 187 varieties tested and released in German registration trials to evaluate the value for cultivation and use (VCU) during 1983-2015, and to quantify the environmental variability and the association among traits. We used mixed linear models with multiple linear regression terms to dissect genetic and non-genetic trend components. Grain yield increased by 43% (23.4 dt ha-1) in VCU trials and 35% (14.0 dt ha-1) on-farm relative to 1983. All yield components contributed significantly. Malting quality was also considerably improved by 2.3% for extract content up to 25.1% for friability, relative to 1983, nearly completely due to new varieties. Total variability of individual traits was very different between traits (2.4-24.4% relative to 1983). The relative influence of genotypes on total variation was low for grain yield and its components, whereas it was considerably larger for other traits. We found remarkable differences between phenotypic and genetic correlation coefficients for grain yield and protein concentration with malting traits. The observed positive phenotypic relation between grain yield and malting quality can be attributed to a shift of selection and environmental effects, but genetic correlations showed a negative association. Genetic effects of protein concentration and malting quality were not correlated indicating that both were not genetically linked. Considerable yield progress and improvement of malting quality were achieved despite of their weak to moderate negative genetic dependence.

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