Elucidating the genetic control of nitrogen use efficiency in wheat in order to develop improved varieties and agronomic practice to deliver sustainable increases in wheat production.



Friday, January 1, 2016 - 11:00


3 years




Wheat (Triticum spp.) is the most widely grown crop globally and accounts for a fifth of humanity’s food, providing 21% of the food calories and 20% of the protein consumed by more than 4.5 billion people (FAOSTAT, 2010). Demand for wheat in the developing world is predicted to increase by 60% by 2050 and there is a very real need to deliver this increase in a sustainable manner, with careful stewardship of both natural resources (land, water) and agricultural inputs (energy, fertiliser). 

Nitrogen fertiliser applied to the growing wheat crop is a key determinant of grain yield and flour quality. However, Nitrogen represents a major cost to the farmer as well as a significant hazard to the environment should it be mis- or over-applied. Wheat breeders and farmers in the UK and India have worked hard to improve the nitrogen uptake and utilization efficiency of the wheat plants through improvement of the crop and agronomic practices. However, further genetic improvement of the wheat crop is required, together with developing methods for more precise fertilise application, in order to improve the sustainability of production.

To meet this challenge, INEW comprises a joint programme of research and capacity building, linking key expertise and resources across the Indian and UK partner organisations.


A key aim of the joint centre is to advance our knowledge and understanding of nitrogen use efficiency in wheat through research and the development of applied tools for wheat breeders. INEW is therefore:

  • Bringing together the major UK and Indian research providers with programmes on nitrogen use in wheat, to provide a unique range of genetic material, skills and research facilities.
  • Building capacity by providing training and exchanges between laboratories to scientists in India and the UK.
  • Exploiting these resources to carry out an integrated study of the genetic, biochemical and molecular basis for improved nitrogen use efficiency in wheat grown in the UK and India, from mechanisms of nitrogen uptake to partitioning in the grain and effects on processing quality.
  • Identifying candidate genes that control key processes limiting nitrogen use efficiency in wheat grown in the UK and India.
  • Developing molecular markers for key traits and transferring these to commercial and public sector wheat breeders in the UK and India.
  • Developing improved nitrogen application strategies and delivering these to farmers as part of agronomic packages.
  • Providing a “legacy” of joint facilities, datasets and technologies as a basis for longer term joint research programmes.

The project will lead to development of germplasm with improved nitrogen use efficiency and to the identification of genes and molecular markers that can be exploited by wheat breeders globally. New strategies for improving the precision of nitrogen application will also be developed and delivered to farmers via well-established mechanisms in both countries. In addition to supporting a closely integrated research programme in the UK and India, the Centre will also provide a legacy of trained scientists, shared facilities, technologies, genetic material and datasets.


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INEW is led by Rothamsted Research and the Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research and brings together the major UK and Indian researchers with programmes on wheat improvement to determine the genetic control of nitrogen use efficiency in wheat. 

  • University of Nottingham - Prof. Martin Broadley; Prof. John Foulkes; Dr Darren Wells; Dr Erik Murchie; Prof. Ian King; Dr Julie King
  • University of Bristol - Prof. Keith Edwards; Dr Sacha Allen
  • John Innes Centre - Dr Simon Griffiths; Dr Luzie Wingen
  • National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) - Dr Alison Bentley; Prof. Ian MacKay
  • Indian Institute of Wheat and Barley Research (IIWBR), Karnal - Dr Karnam Venkatesh Principal Investigator (India); Dr Sindhu Sareen
  • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi - Dr Renu Pandey; Dr Anju M Singh; Dr S N Lekshmy
  • National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology (NRCPB), New Delhi - Prof. Nagendra Singh; Dr Pranah Mandal; Dr Subodh Sinha
  • Borlaug Institute South Asia (BISA) Ladhowal, Ludhiana - Dr Harminder Sidhu; Dr M L Jat
  • Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana - Dr Achla Sharma; Dr Jayesh Singh
  • National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi - Dr Soma Marla