Crop Biotech Update

New Wheat Varieties with Dwarf Genes Show Promise

September 14, 2016

The Department of Agriculture and Food of Western Australia is field testing new wheat lines developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Senior research officer Dr. Bob French said the new lines contained alternative dwarfing genes that had a longer coleoptile length, the pointed protective sheath that encases the emerging shoot as it grows from the seed to the soil surface.

Dr. French said that the introduction of dwarfing genes Rht1 and Rht2 into Australian varieties produced wheat crops that are less prone to lodging and have higher yield potential. As a consequence of the genes, the coleoptile length of the crops was shorter at 50-80 millimetres, which left them struggling to emerge when sown deeper than 80mm.

The CSIRO lines include the Rht8 gene, back-crossed to an old, tall variety which has a long coleoptile length. According to Dr. French, a small set of plants in two trials showed that the lines with longer coleoptiles significantly improved emergence from deeper sowing.

For more details, read the news release at the Government of Western Australia website.