• Gene to Reduce Wheat Yield Losses

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Gene to Reduce Wheat Yield Losses

Mar 26 2009

A new gene that provides resistance to a fungal disease responsible for millions of hectares of lost wheat yield has been discovered by scientists from the US and Israel."This is the first step to achieving more durable resistance to a devastating disease in wheat," said Dr Cristobal Uauy, coauthor of the report and who has been recently appointed to the John Innes Centre in Norwich.

Resistance to stripe rust has previously been achieved using genes that are specific to single races of the disease. Unfortunately, each of these genes has had limited durability in the field because the pathogen has mutated to overcome them. In the paper, published in Science Express the international team of scientists report finding a novel type of gene in wild wheat that is absent in modern pasta and bread wheat varieties.

"This gene makes wheat more resistant to all stripe rust fungus races tested so far," said Dr Uauy. The gene confers resistance at relatively high temperatures, and a focus of Dr Cristobal Uauy’s research at JIC will be to test how effective it is in UK adapted varieties. Bread wheat provides about 20 per cent of the calories eaten by humankind and is the UK’s biggest crop export.
Dr Uauy is to lead a research collaboration with the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) designed to deliver practical benefits to agriculture. Research results will be made available to breeders, so they can be deployed into modern varieties for farmers. Dr Uauy will use the latest genomic techniques to find genes in wheat that directly affect yield and nutritional content.
Reference: ’A novel kinase-START gene confers temperature-dependent resistance to wheat stripe rust’, Science Express.


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