ARS Scientists Identify Key Gene in Wheat to Help Resist Fusarium Head Blight

Scientists from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) led by plant molecular geneticist Guihua Bai have identified a key gene that could be used as an important genetic resource by wheat breeders worldwide to address the constant challenge posed by Fusarium head blight (FHB). Also known as scab, FHB has caused an estimated US$2.7 billion in losses, in the state of Minnesota alone since the 1990s, and forced many wheat and barley farmers there into bankruptcy. 

FHB thrives in warm and moist conditions and is now an increasing threat worldwide due to unpredictable weather patterns brought on by climate change. Bai and his colleagues showed that the gene TaHRC plays a key role in conferring wheat resistance to FHB. The researchers confirmed the role played by the TaHRC gene by "switching it off," which modified the production of key proteins and significantly increased FHB resistance. 

For more details, read the ARS news release.


 

This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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