Reviewing the essential roles of remote phenotyping, GWAS and explainable AI in practical marker-assisted selection for drought-tolerant winter wheat breeding

Ignacio Chang-Brahim, Lukas Koppensteiner, Lorenzo Beltrame, Gernot Bodner, Anna Saranti, Jules Salzinger, Phillipp Fanta-Jende, Christoph Sulzbachner, Felix Bruckmüller, Friederike Trognitz, Mina Samad-Zamini, Elisabeth Zechner, Andreas Holzinger, Eva Maria Molin

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung


Marker-assisted selection (MAS) plays a crucial role in crop breeding improving the speed and precision of conventional breeding programmes by quickly and reliably identifying and selecting plants with desired traits. However, the efficacy of MAS depends on several prerequisites, with precise phenotyping being a key aspect of any plant breeding programme. Recent advancements in high-throughput remote phenotyping, facilitated by unmanned aerial vehicles coupled to machine learning, offer a non-destructive and efficient alternative to traditional, time-consuming, and labour-intensive methods. Furthermore, MAS relies on knowledge of marker-trait associations, commonly obtained through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), to understand complex traits such as drought tolerance, including yield components and phenology. However, GWAS has limitations that artificial intelligence (AI) has been shown to partially overcome. Additionally, AI and its explainable variants, which ensure transparency and interpretability, are increasingly being used as recognised problem-solving tools throughout the breeding process. Given these rapid technological advancements, this review provides an overview of state-of-the-art methods and processes underlying each MAS, from phenotyping, genotyping and association analyses to the integration of explainable AI along the entire workflow. In this context, we specifically address the challenges and importance of breeding winter wheat for greater drought tolerance with stable yields, as regional droughts during critical developmental stages pose a threat to winter wheat production. Finally, we explore the transition from scientific progress to practical implementation and discuss ways to bridge the gap between cutting-edge developments and breeders, expediting MAS-based winter wheat breeding for drought tolerance.
FachzeitschriftFrontiers in Plant Science
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 18 Apr. 2024

Research Field

  • Assistive and Autonomous Systems
  • Exploration of Biological Resources


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