Crop Biotech Update

Discovery of New Genetic Markers to Improve Wheat

October 14, 2015

Wheat scientists from Kansas State University have completed the first study of a chromosome in a tertiary gene pool, a breakthrough in exploring wheat wild relatives for future crop improvement. A complete understanding of the tertiary gene makeup helps wheat breeders develop new varieties that are resistant to disease and more tolerant of heat and drought.

The researchers used a flow sorter to dissect a single chromosome from the larger genome in a wild wheat relative. Then they studied the gene composition and developed genomic resources and markers in the wild relative for gene mining and transfer to wheat.

The chromosome they studied — known as 5M from a wheat progenitor Aegilops geniculata — has many important agronomic genes, according to Vijay Tiwari, the study's lead author. Three genes in particular will be useful in helping to breed for resistance to wheat rust.

For more details, read the news release at the Kansas University News and Communications Services.