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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Identify Gene to Fight Wheat Scab

November 16, 2016

A multi-University team of researchers achieved a major breakthrough in cloning a resistance gene to eliminate wheat scab, also known as Fusarium head blight. Wheat scab is a widespread disease responsible for drastic reductions in crop yield as well as millions of dollars in annual losses worldwide.

The researchers from University of Maryland, Washington State University, Kansas State University, and University of Minnesota used sophisticated wheat genome sequencing techniques to isolate the Fhb1 gene.

Dr. Nidhi Rawat, assistant professor in the University of Maryland's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources said, "Fhb1 is very special, as only a few broad-spectrum resistance genes have been cloned so far that provide multi-pathogen resistance. The durability and applicability of Fhb1 puts it in a category all to itself and we must learn how to harness it appropriately." Future research, said Dr. Rawat, will involve optimizing the transfer of this resistance to other crops infected by Fusarium species through breeding, transgenic, cis-genic, and genome editing techniques.

For more details, read the news release at the University of Maryland website.