Canadian wheat improvement flagship

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If you're interested in wheat research and development, expanding your network or knowledge base, accessing our advanced scientific infrastructure or connecting with our experts, contact:

Faouzi Bekkaoui
Telephone: 306-975-5274

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Canadian Wheat Alliance

The Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA) represents an unprecedented 11‑year commitment among Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada, the University of Saskatchewan, the province of Saskatchewan and the National Research Council Canada, to support and advance research that will improve the profitability of Canadian wheat producers. CWA members are integrating their complementary areas of expertise in wheat breeding, genomics, biotechnology and pathology to help create the critical R&D mass needed to enable Canada to significantly increase its share of global wheat production.

The Canadian Wheat Improvement Flagship is NRC's contribution to the Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA), a strategic collaboration with Agriculture and Agri‑Food Canada (AAFC), the University of Saskatchewan's Crop Development Centre and the province of Saskatchewan. Through its flagship initiative, NRC provides CWA with expertise in genomics technologies, tool development and plant biotechnology to contribute to the CWA goal of improving the yield, production, sustainability and profitability of Canadian wheat for the benefit of our farmers and our economy.

Partnership opportunity

The objective of the Canadian Wheat Alliance (CWA) is to develop new wheat varieties that:

  • Produce stable, increased yields
  • Better resist environmental and disease stresses
  • Reduce agricultural input costs and the environmental impact of fertilizers
  • Improve prosperity for Canadian farmers

Alliance members are currently seeking engagement with private sector entities, not‑for‑profit corporations, Canadian public‑sector organizations, provinces and international agencies that can collaborate in initiatives that will enhance the likelihood of achieving CWA objectives, while offering partners valuable expertise and insights into the industry. In particular, alliance members are proactively soliciting private sector engagement in R&D activities, as well as members for CWA's Doubled Haploid Consortium, which will accelerate the development of low‑cost, high‑efficiency technologies.

NRC's flagship serves as a gateway to collaborating with, or joining, the alliance.

Project objectives and offerings

The CWA is currently focused on six projects that will reduce wheat losses due to drought, heat, cold stress and disease, and reduce nitrogen fertilizer requirements. They are as follows:

  1. Genomics Assisted Breeding (GAB) – Using high through‑put DNA sequencing and genotyping technologies to develop and deploy novel genomic tools.
  2. Wheat Improvement through Cell Technologies (WICT) – Delivering methodology for low‑cost routine production of doubled haploids.
  3. Enhanced Fusarium and Rust Tolerance (EFRT) – Developing durable genetic resistance against Fusarium head blight (FHB) and rusts.
  4. Improving Wheat Productivity under Conditions of Abiotic Stress (Abiotic stress project) – Delivering markers to facilitate traditional breeding efforts, and identifying superior gene alleles that will serve as a genetic platform to pyramid multiple superior gene alleles into one cultivar.
  5. Targeting Developmental Pathways to improve Performance and Yield in Wheat (Development project) – Delivering a comprehensive gene expression atlas for wheat seed development; identifying genome‑wide expression programs associated with maternal and/or paternal alleles during seed development; and developing a suit of potential gene targets associated with improved performance and seed yield traits.
  6. Beneficial Biotic Interactions (BBI) – Applying a powerful metagenomics platform to identify wheat‑microbe interactions that will reduce nitrogen requirements and define the microbiological characteristics of healthy productive soils for wheat varieties.

Throughout the course of the alliance, additional projects will be added.

Partner benefits

Partners will benefit from shared opportunities, access to extensive data, and unparalleled genomics expertise and discoveries. They will be in a unique position to take advantage of various types of outputs from CWA activity, ranging from technology platforms and biomarkers, to new and/or improved wheat varieties. The CWA also offers opportunities to join existing projects through collaboration or consortia, or to establish additional incremental project activity. Partners who contribute significant resources to the alliance will be encouraged to help set R&D objectives.


Faouzi Bekkaoui
Telephone: 306-975-5274