Biotech Updates

U.S.-Pakistan Wheat Breeders' Cooperation Develops Unique Pool of Wheat Genetics to Fight Wheat Diseases

September 16, 2015

Pakistan's Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research (NFS&R) Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, said that research in wheat during the last four decades has enabled Pakistani farmers to increase their yield by over 224 percent, from 862 kilograms/hectare in 1965 to 2,800 kilograms in 2015. The Federal Minister made this remark at the Annual Wheat Planning and Wheat Productivity Enhancement Programme (WPEP) meeting held at the National Agricultural Research Center (NARC) in Islamabad, Pakistan on September 8, 2015.

The goal of WPEP is to protect and enhance the productivity of wheat in the country, especially from wheat rust, which is difficult and expensive to treat using pesticides. The only real way to control the disease, according to experts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is through the development of new, disease resistant strains of wheat.

During the event, Dr. Muhammad Imtiaz, country representative of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), told the participants that as many as 46 rust diseases were recorded during the program. Dr. David Marshall, Research Leader at the USDA ARS Plant Science Research Unit said that a unique pool of wheat genetic resources has been developed by this project. These genetic resources can be used by Pakistani, and U.S. wheat breeders, to improve disease resistance as well as grain yield and flour quality.

For more details, read the news releases at the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council website, or at the Pakistan Biotechnology Information Center website.