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Crop Biotech Update

Wheat's Wild Ancestors Give Clue to Ug99 Resistance

April 16, 2014

Scientists from US Department of Agriculture (USDA) studied the genes of ancient grasses and found a gene that could save wheat from Ug99 (Puccina graminis), a notorious type of stem rust that keeps on evolving.

USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist Matt Rouse and colleagues studied a variety of ancient grasses such as einkorn wheat, emmer wheat, and goatgrass. Rouse and team found the gene Sr35 which confers resistance to the stem rust. To search for the position of Sr35 in the wheat genome, the research team conducted various knock-out experiments. In one set of mutant plants, they knocked out the cloned sequences and found it made those plants susceptible to Ug99. In another set of mutant plants, they inserted the same sequences into previously susceptible plants and found it made them resistant.

This marked the first time that scientists managed to isolate and clone a Ug99 resistance gene. The results would help scientists to easily insert useful genes into wheat varieties.

Read the original article at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2014/140407.htm.