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Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology

versão On-line ISSN 1984-7033

Crop Breed. Appl. Biotechnol. vol.14 no.4 Viçosa dez. 2014 



History of wheat cultivars released by Embrapa in forty years of research


Histórico de cultivares de trigo lançadas pela Embrapa em quarenta anos de pesquisa



Eduardo Caierão*; Pedro Luiz Scheeren; Márcio Só e Silva; Ricardo Lima de Castro

Embrapa Trigo, Rodovia BR 285, km 294, CP 451, 99.001-970, Passo Fundo, RS, Brazil




In forty years of genetic breeding of wheat, Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) has developed over a hundred new cultivars for different regions of Brazil. Information regarding identification of these cultivars is often requested from Embrapa breeders. Data on year of release, name of pre-commercial line, the cross made, and the company unit responsible for indication of the cultivar are not always easily accessible and are often scattered throughout different documents. The aim of this study was to conduct a historical survey of all the wheat cultivars released by Embrapa, aggregating the information in a single document. Since 1974, Embrapa has released 112 wheat cultivars, including 12 by Embrapa Soybean - CNPSo (Londrina, PR), 14 by Embrapa Cerrado - CPAC (Brasília, DF), 9 by Embrapa Agropecuária Oeste - CPAO (Dourados, MS), and 77 by Embrapa Wheat - CNPT (Passo Fundo, RS).

Key words: Triticum aestivum, germplasm, cross.


Em quarenta anos de melhoramento genético de trigo, a Embrapa (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária) desenvolveu mais de uma centena de novas cultivares, para diferentes regiões do Brasil. Com muita frequência, os melhoristas da Embrapa são demandados por informações de identificação dessas cultivares. As informações de ano de lançamento, nomenclatura de linhagem pré-comercial, cruzamento e unidade da empresa responsável pela indicação nem sempre são de fácil acesso além de estarem dispersas em diferentes documentos. O objetivo do trabalho foi realizar um levantamento histórico de todas as cultivares de trigo lançadas pela Embrapa. Desde 1974, a Embrapa lançou 112 cultivares de trigo, sendo 12 pelo Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Soja - CNPSo (Londrina, PR), 14 pelo Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária do Cerrado - CPAC (Brasília, DF), 9 pelo Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária Oeste - CPAO (Dourados, MS) e 77 pelo Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Trigo - CNPT (Passo Fundo, RS).

Palavras-chave: Triticum aestivum, germoplasma, cruzamento.




Genetic breeding of wheat in Brazil truly began in 1919 when the Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food) created experimental stations in Alfredo Chaves, RS (now Veranópolis, RS) and in Ponta Grossa, PR. It was at the station in Veranópolis, later incorporated in the Department of Agriculture of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (now the Fundação Estadual de Pesquisa Agropecuária - Fepagro [State Crop and Livestock Research Foundation]), that genetic breeding of wheat really begin in Brazil. These activities were led by the researcher Carlos Gaier. The first strategies were selections of wheat genotypes within local (colonial) cultivars and, soon after, in 1926, creation of the first hybrids. Crosses between the Polyssú wheat variety (Beckman 1954) and the Alfredo Chaves lines resulted in important cultivars at the beginning of the century in Brazil (Sousa 2004). Almost simultaneously, in 1937, the Instituto Agronômico de Campinas - IAC (Campinas Agronomical Institute) also carried out its first crosses with wheat. These two institutions, allied with the other Organizações Estaduais de Pesquisa Agropecuária - OEPAS (State Crop and Livestock Research Organizations), have contributed to genetic breeding of Brazilian wheat in various aspects, but mainly through the genetic base developed. Some cultivars developed in the first half of the last century are used as sources of resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses in current hybridizations. In this respect, even now, the institutions cited above are either protagonists or partners of other breeders in the continual work of development of new wheat cultivars in Brazil.

In the 1970s, scientific research in wheat developed significantly from the creation of research centers by agricultural cooperatives in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (CEP/Fecotrigo - currently CCGL TEC) and in the state of Paraná (Ocepar, currently Coodetec), responsible for the generation of dozens of wheat cultivars of economic importance. Examples of this were the cultivars CEP 24 (in Rio Grande do Sul) and CD 104 (in Paraná). Moreover, in that decade there was the creation of the Instituto Agronômico do Paraná - IAPAR (Agronomical Institute of Parana) and expansion of the work of the IAC. More than 70 wheat cultivars have already been released by IAPAR and IAC, which also shows their importance in the development of wheat in Brazil. In 1974, the Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecuária - Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) was created (Sousa 1998), a milestone in crop and livestock scientific research in the country, which resulted in significant advances in agriculture, particularly in grain yields of many crops, and especially of wheat. The creation of private companies for wheat breeding, such as OR Sementes (in 1989), Biotrigo Genética Ltda (in 2008), and DNA Melhoramento Vegetal (also in 2008), among others, came to consolidate the system of genetic research of the cereal crop in Brazil in recent decades.

The Embrapa genetic breeding program for wheat also began in 1974, together with creation of the Centro Nacional de Pesquisa de Trigo (National Wheat Research Center), located in Passo Fundo, RS. Initially, the program was based on the germplasm incorporated from the Instituto de Pesquisas e Experimentação Agropecuárias do Sul - IPEAS (Southern Crop and Livestock Research and Experimentation Institute) to later carry out its own hybridizations (Sousa 2004). In 1975, the first wheat cultivar from Embrapa was released, called CNT 1 (Sousa 1998).

Embrapa, as a research institution, has a coordinator of the national project of genetic breeding of the cereal crop in the Embrapa Trigo (CNPT) unit, located in Passo Fundo, RS. However, as the variability of the climatic and soil conditions within the regions suitable for growing wheat is quite large, other units of the company contribute to genetic breeding of the cereal crop to overcome specific problems of the region where they are located and they operate as branches of the research effort of Embrapa Trigo. Three Embrapa units stand out in this role of collaboration in the national wheat project: the Embrapa Soja - CNPSo (Embrapa Soybean) unit, located in Londrina, PR, responsible for the release of cultivars adapted to the northeast of this state; the unit of the Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária do Cerrado - CPAC (Crop and Livestock Research Center of the Cerrado), located in Brasilia, DF, responsible for indication of cultivars of the dryland and irrigated regime for the Brazilian cerrado (tropical savanna); and the unit of the Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária Oeste - CPAO (West Crop and Livestock Research Center), located in Dourados, MS, charged with indicating cultivars for that region.

Quite often, Embrapa wheat breeders are asked for information in regard to the year of release, the cross, the pre-commercial name, and the region for which the wheat cultivars released were indicated. Among those requesting this information, we may highlight the technical assistance sector, the academic sector connected with the agricultural areas, and the wheat segment itself connected with the company. Part of this information may be easily accessed, especially through folders distributed at the time of launching the cultivars and in some publications of the Comissão Brasileira de Pesquisa de Trigo e Triticale (Brazilian Wheat and Triticale Research Commission), However, a significant part of this information is not available (or at least is not easily accessed). and there is no organized document that gathers the historical information of release of wheat cultivars of Embrapa in Brazil from the time of its creation.

All the wheat genetic breeding institutions, whether public or private, have made their contribution to the agronomic and qualitative development of the cereal crop in Brazil. The aim of this study was to carry out a historical survey of all the wheat cultivars released by Embrapa, compiling the main information for identification, and their contribution to wheat development in Brazil.



The historical survey of the wheat cultivars indicated for growing in Brazil from 1974 to 2013 was carried out as based on guiding bibliographical documents. Publications arising from research meetings of the Comissão Brasileira de Pesquisa de Trigo e Triticale were consulted (Comissão 2004a, Comissão 2004b, Comissão 2004c, Comissão 2005a, Comissão 2005b, Comissão 2006, Comissão 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), as well as books from different authors connected with the breeding programs (Sousa 1998, 2003, 2004), papers (Benin et al. 2013, Casassola et al. 2013), folders, audiovisual material, and annual research reports. Technical documents filed in other Embrapa units were solicited. Retired Embrapa researchers were also consulted so as to complement and systematize the information. The following information was gathered together for each cultivar indicated: a) year of release; b) commercial name; c) name of pre-commercial line; d) cross; e) Embrapa unit responsible for indication of the cultivar, and f) situation of the cultivar at the Serviço Nacional de Proteção de Cultivares (National Cultivar Protection Service) (if the cultivar is protected or not).

The wheat cultivars were grouped according to the Embrapa unit in which they were generated, and then by the year of release. Divergent information related to the same cultivar was checked in detail for the purpose of consistency of the document. The cultivars protected by the Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (MAPA) were identified by accessing the site:



From 1974 to 2013, Embrapa indicated 112 wheat cultivars for planting (Table 1). The largest number of indications was made by the CNPT (77 releases). The CPAC, CNPSo, and CPAO units made indication of 14, 12, and 9 cultivars, respectively. The proportionality of these releases is explained through two reasons. The first is related to the fact of the CNPT being the national leader of the wheat genetic breeding project of Embrapa and, consequently, having the national mandate for development of the crop, with the greatest technical and physical structure available among the units. The second, though not less important, refers to the fact that most of the wheat-growing area in Brazil is located in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, and Paraná, and the crops developed by the CNPT are indicated for these states, especially in relation to adaptation and reaction to the main biotic and abiotic stresses.

Analyzing the contextualization per decade as of the creation of Embrapa, the 1980s and the first decade of the twenty-first century were those that exhibited the greatest number of cultivars indicated for planting, regardless of the unit from which they were released (31 indications). In the past four years (2010 to 2013), 9 new wheat cultivars were indicated, almost exclusively indicated by the CNPT. In Tables 2 and 3 are listed all the cultivars indicated by the CNPT. In Table 4 are the cultivars indicated by the CPAC. Table 5 shows the cultivars indicated by the CNPSo and, finally, in Table 6 are the cultivars developed by the CPAO.

The cultivars indicated by the CNPT went through four steps in relation to their commercial name. From 1975 to 1977, they were called "CNT" (Table 2). From 1979 to 1991, they were called "Trigo BR" (Table 2 and 3). From 1992 to 1996, they were called "Embrapa" (Table 3). As of 1997, with the advent of the Cultivar Protection Law (Lei de Proteção de Cultivares), they came to be called "BRS" (Table 3). These name changes occurred through the years due to the legal and strategic modifications of the company. The first decade of releases by the CNPT was highly influenced by the germplasm coming from the now extinct Instituto Agronômico do Sul (IAS), located in Pelotas, RS, present in almost all the cultivars indicated in this period (Table 2). From 1986 to 2002, the germplasm used for generation of the new cultivars was highly varied, from different origins.

As of 2002, Embrapa Trigo established a partnership with the Fundação Pró-Sementes de Apoio à Pesquisa (Pro-Seeds Research Support Foundation), with the goal of adapting to the need of a greater experimental network for determination of the Value for Cultivation and Use (VCU) trials of its lines for purposes of protection. The Foundation cited was responsible for bringing about the experimental network of the lines that originated in the unit and, in return, the producers connected with the institution were given priority in acquisition of the basic seed of the new cultivars for commercialization. In this period of partnership, 19 cultivars were indicated for planting, namely, in chronological order (Table 3): BRS Angico, BRS Figueira, BRS Timbaúva, BRS Buriti, BRS Camboatá, BRS Guabijú, BRS Louro, BRS Umbú, BRS Camboim, BRS Canela, BRS Guatambu, BRS Tarumã, BRS Guamirim, BRS 276, BRS 277, BRS 327, BRS 328, BRS 331, and BRS 374. The complete description of some of these cultivars can be found in the published papers (Caierão et al. 2013, Scheeren et al. 2014). As a marketing strategy, most of them were given names of trees, and only at the end of the partnership did they come to be designated with numbers in series. The partnership between Embrapa Trigo and the Fundação Pró-Sementes de Apoio à Pesquisa ended in 2006. In spite of that, up to 2012, cultivars originating from the partnership were still indicated because the lines had already been included in the Annual Work Plans at the time the contract was terminated.

Of the 77 cultivars released by Embrapa Trigo in the forty years of research, some had great expression in the crops of Rio Grande do Sul, coming to be the most planted cultivars. We may cite especially CNT 10, in 1982; CNT 8, from 1985 to 1987; Trigo BR 23, from 1990 to 1994; Embrapa 16, from 1995 to 1998; BRS 49, in 2000; BRS 179, in 2002 and 2003 (Sousa 2004); and BRS Guamirim, in 2009. The cultivar BRS 179, for example, was notable for increase in the level of grain yield and tolerance to fusarium head blight, and it is used yet today in hybridizations for resistance to this fungus of the wheat spike. For its part, the cultivar BRS Guamirim established a different plant size parameter at the time of its release. Of low stature and very early cycle, it exhibited broad adaptation to all the wheat-growing regions of Brazil, with a rapid rise in planted area. The situation of the cultivar BRS Tarumã is noteworthy, indicated in 2004 (Table 3), with a dual-purpose profile, in spite of not appearing in the official seed production statistics. This cultivar exhibits characteristics differentiated from conventional wheat, adapted to crop-livestock integration, with tolerance to animal trampling, high tillering capacity, and capacity for creating new shoots when subjected to grazing. In the ten years after its release, the official seed volume produced was never significant, although increasing. In spite of that, it is estimated that in Rio Grande do Sul, approximately 10% of the area is planted to BRS Tarumã, especially in the dairy cattle regions. One of the factors that explain this absence in the official statistics is the fact of this cultivar being more used by small producers, who save its seed and thus multiply it. In 2012 and 2013, Embrapa Trigo indicated the cultivars BRS Parrudo and BRS Marcante, characterized by qualitative stability and bread improver profile. The cultivar BRS Parrudo provides an innovative proposal in the aspect of plant ideotype, combining stems resistant to lodging, upright leaves, high vigor in initial development of the plant and excellent resistances to the main biotic stresses of wheat. The cultivar BRS Marcante, for its part, stands out through high grain yield, without impairment of flour/gluten strength, a combination difficult to find in wheat breeding. Of the 77 cultivars indicated for planting by Embrapa Trigo, 30 are protected (MAPA 2013), and one is in the process of obtaining protection (Table 3).

In spite of the effort already made in the Brazilian cerrado for development of wheat cultivars of an irrigated and dryland regime, both by Embrapa and other breeders, the area occupied in the region is not yet significant in comparison to the traditional areas of the south of Brazil. Since 1974, 14 wheat cultivars have been released for the region, of which only BRS 207, BRS 254, and BRS 264 are protected in MAPA (Table 4). Currently, the CPAC concentrates its efforts on development of wheat cultivars for the irrigated regime, with BRS 254 and BRS 264 standing out for high grain yield potential, a characteristic indispensable for disputing the space under irrigation pivots against vegetable crops. For several years, the cultivar Trigo BR 33 - Guará was the cultivar most planted in Goiás and the Distrito Federal, mainly through its agronomic characteristics and resistance to lodging under irrigation (Sousa 2004). Due to cooperative efforts with the CNPT, some lines called "PF" resulted in cultivars indicated for dryland growing in Central Brazil, such as CNT 7, Trigo BR 8, Trigo BR 16 - Rio Verde, Trigo BR 24, and Trigo BR 25 (Sousa 2004). As of 2012, a specific program began in Uberaba, from creation of a Tropical Wheat Research Station, also connected with Embrapa Trigo, for development of wheat cultivars for dryland conditions. The program has its own structure in Minas Gerais, from which promising results are expected through aggregation of the germplasm developed up to now, with additional multidisciplinary actions, and through cultivars, which exhibit greater adaptation to the growing system in the region.

Embrapa Soja (CNPSo) has a fundamental role as the research body connected with the national project of wheat breeding coordinated by Embrapa Trigo. From its activities, 12 wheat cultivars have been developed since 2000, with all of them under the protection of MAPA (Table 5). Practically all the cultivars originating from this unit were derived from "WT" lines developed in Londrina and adapted to the main problems of the northwest region of Paraná, important in wheat production in the state. The cultivars BRS 208 and BRS 220 may be highlighted and, more recently, the cultivars BRS Tangará and BRS Pardela. All the cultivars developed by Embrapa Soja, except for BRS 193 and BRS 208, resulted from a partnership with the Fundação Meridional de Apoio à Pesquisa (Meridional Research Support Foundation), in a manner similar to the partnership of Embrapa Trigo with the Fundação Pró-Sementes in Rio Grande do Sul. Nevertheless, in contrast with what occurred in RS, the partnership of Embrapa Soja with the Fundação Meridional still exists, and three other cultivars have been released in recent years: BRS Gaivota, BRS Gralha Azul, and BRS Sabiá. The germplasm used in the genetic makeup of the cultivars indicated by Embrapa Soja is quite varied - Mexican materials (Anahuac 75 and Jupateco F3), Argentinian materials (Buck Poncho), and lines and cultivars from Embrapa and from other breeders, such as Fundacep (CEP).

Another research branch in genetic breeding of wheat from Embrapa is the Centro de Pesquisa Agropecuária Oeste, located in Dourados, MS. From there, 9 wheat cultivars have been indicated since 1984 (Table 6). Nevertheless, since 1992, no other cultivar has been developed. The reason is that the program lost strength because of small demand for the cereal crop in Mato Grosso do Sul and surrounding region. Of all the cultivars indicated through the CPAO, undoubtedly, Trigo BR 18 - Terena is the most important, and it is even internationally relevant. Developed for the dryland regime in 1986, it is still a reference for growing under the dryland regime for the entire region of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás, and Minas Gerais because of its tolerance to heat and to low water availability, together with its characteristics of quality and good plant architecture. Although its origin is unknown, it is still highly used in crosses in breeding programs. Because of the time since release, none of these cultivars indicated by the CPAO are protected and they have origin mainly in lines from Mato Grosso do Sul (MS lines).



Grouping of the release information of all the wheat cultivars of Embrapa from 1974 to 2013, with the year of release, the name of the pre-commercial line, the cross, and other additional information, will be useful for the production, academic, and even research segments, whatever the purpose may be. It addition, it is an important historical document of the work already performed by Embrapa in genetic breeding of wheat in Brazil.



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Benin G, Storck L, Marchioro VS, Franco FA, Shuster I and Travizan DM (2013) Improving the precision of genotype selection in wheat performance trials. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 13: 234-240.         [ Links ]

Caierao E, Só e Silva M, Scheeren PL, Eichelberger L, Nascimento Jr A, Guarienti EM, Miranda MZ, Costamilan L, Santana FM, Maciel JLN, Pires JL, Lau D, Pereira PR, Cargnin A and Castro RL (2013) BRS 374 - Wheat cultivar. Crop Breeding and Applied Biotechnology 13: 212-214.         [ Links ]

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Received 7 January 2014
Accepted 27 May 2014



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