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Crop Biotech Update

Cause of Wheat Resistance to Scab Discovered

May 6, 2015

Dr. Rachid Lahlali from the Canadian Light Source (CLS), together with a research team from the CLS, National Research Council Canada, University of Saskatchewan, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada used the synchrotron to image both healthy and infected wheat spikes and florets to understand the development and progression of the Fusarium head blight disease.

Fusarium head blight (FHB) is a huge global problem, caused by a fungus that attacks the head of the wheat plant, causing the kernels to shrivel up and produce toxins. The disease affects wheat and barley crops in Canada, China, parts of southern Africa, Eastern Europe, South America, and the US.

"What we were trying to do using the synchrotron is to understand how the fungus infects the plant and see what changes are happening. What we found are biochemical markers at the point of where the infection begins," said Dr. Lahlali. The research team used novel techniques developed at the CLS to image living wheat plants. According to Dr. Lahlali, they saw the differences in the wheat infected by the fungus and experiments showed that the structures could be lost or altered, and traits can be changed for the plants to become FHB resistant.

For more details, read the news release at the CLS website.