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The fortune of a botanical curiosity – Triticale: past, present and future

  • G. OETTLER (a1)


Triticale (×Triticosecale Wittmack) is the intergeneric hybrid between the female parent wheat (Triticum ssp.) and the male parent rye (Secale ssp.). The early work identifying and then producing primary and secondary triticales is described. Early wheat–rye hybrids were characterized by reproductive disorders and the cytology and meiotic characteristics have received much attention. Chromosome constitution has been studied particularly in relation to R-D substitution. Triticale has always been bred as a self-pollinating crop, although outcrossing can occur, and current cultivars are all nearly homozygous and homogeneous lines. Hybrid breeding (using cytoplasmic male sterility) makes the optimum exploitation of heterosis possible and, with the aid of molecular markers, triticale germplasm is presently being investigated to establish genetically diverse heterotic groups.

The first released spring and winter cultivars were generally characterized by good disease resistance, but low grain yield, shrivelled grain, high protein content, excessive height, lodging and preharvest sprouting. Breeding effort has increased yield, reduced shrivelling and improved test weight but at the expense of protein content, which is now comparable to wheat and rye. Plant height and lodging are also now comparable to wheat and rye. Progress in reducing preharvest sprouting by genetic selection is proving difficult and slow. Triticale may be suitable for grain production and for dual purpose usage for forage and grain.

The role of biotechnology in triticale improvement is described. The future of the crop, especially in low-input systems, and as raw material for industrial uses is considered.


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The Journal of Agricultural Science
  • ISSN: 0021-8596
  • EISSN: 1469-5146
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-agricultural-science
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