Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Develop New Gene-Detecting Technology that Could Bring Super Wheat

May 4, 2016

Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) and The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) have pioneered a new gene-detecting technology which, if deployed correctly could help create a new elite variety of wheat with durable resistance to disease.

Dr. Brande Wulff from the JIC and colleagues from TSL developed the new technology called ‘MutRenSeq' which accurately identifies the location of disease resistance genes in large plant genomes, and which has reduced the time it takes to clone these genes in wheat from 5 to 10 years down to just two. This technology will allow scientists to very quickly locate resistance genes from crops, clone them, and stack multiple resistance genes into one elite variety.

MutRenSeq is a three step method for quickly isolating resistance genes based on (1) creating mutants from resistant wild type wheat plants and identifying those with loss of disease resistance, (2) sequencing genomes of both wild type resistant plants and those which have lost resistance, and (3) comparing these genes in mutants and wild types to identify the exact mutations responsible for the loss of disease resistance.

In the first test run of MutRenSeq, Dr. Wulff's team successfully isolated a well-known resistance gene, Sr33, in a fraction of the time it had previously taken to do this by conventional breeding techniques. After which, the team then cloned two important stem rust resistance genes, Sr22 and Sr45, which scientists have until now, been unable to isolate successfully.

For more details, read the news release at the John Innes Centre website.