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Some of the most economically important traits in plant breeding show highly polygenic inheritance. Genetic variation is a key determinant of the rates of genetic improvement in selective breeding programs. Rapid progress in genetic improvement comes at the cost of a rapid loss of genetic variation. Germplasm available through expired Plant Variety Protection (exPVP) lines is a potential resource of variation previously lost in elite breeding programs. Introgression for polygenic traits is challenging, as many genes have a small effect on the trait of interest. Here we propose a way to overcome these challenges with a multi-part pre-breeding program that has feedback pathways to optimise recurrent genomic selection. The multi-part breeding program consists of three components, namely a bridging component, population improvement, and product development. Parameters influencing the multi-part program were optimised with the use of a grid search. Haploblock effect and origin were investigated. Results showed that the introgression of exPVP germplasm using an optimised multi-part breeding strategy resulted in 1.53 times higher genetic gain compared to a two-part breeding program. Higher gain was achieved through reducing the performance gap between exPVP and elite germplasm and breaking down linkage drag. Both first and subsequent introgression events showed to be successful. In conclusion, the multi-part breeding strategy has a potential to improve long-term genetic gain for polygenic traits and therefore, potential to contribute to global food security.
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1/10/18 → 31/12/22