Diversity and mega-targets of selection from the characterization of a barley collection
Germplasm exchange is essential for assuring genetic gain in a breeding program. Two aspects of breeding programs are relevant to making them compatible for germplasm exchange: the amount of genetic diversity within programs and the identification of breeding programs with similar breeding objectives and environments of selection (i.e., mega-targets of selection). The objective of this study was to develop a data-driven method to group breeding programs likely to be compatible for germplasm exchange and to use phenotypic characterization data of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) from breeding programs to illustrate this method. In two locations in Uruguay we evaluated 20 traits in 353 genotypes of barley from 23 private and public breeding programs distributed worldwide. We found significant amounts of genetic diversity for all traits, but differences in diversity among programs for only seven traits. We identified programs with high (Western Australia Department of Agriculture; University of Saskatchewan; and Svalöf Weibull Ab, Sweden) and low diversity (winter program of Osijek Agricultural Institute, Croatia; spring program of Osijek Agricultural Institute, Croatia; Saatzucht Josef Breun, Germany; Busch Agricultural Resources; USDA-ARS, Aberdeen, ID; and University of Minnesota). We developed a methodology that groups programs with similar performance and response to the environments. We used the methodology to group the 23 breeding programs of barley into sets that might benefit most from germplasm exchange. The identification of compatible programs for germplasm exchange could be relevant for improving genetic gains in breeding programs.