Biotech Updates

Researchers Explore New Source of Virus Resistance in Wheat

September 6, 2017

Researchers from South Dakota State University (SDSU) hope to transfer resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus to bread wheat from a distant relative, sea wheatgrass.

Associate Professor Wanlong Li of the Department of Biology and Microbiology said, "In wheat breeding, we have a lot of very important genes transferred from relatives to wheat varieties." For instance, resistance to leaf rust, stem rust and yellow rust, as well as powdery mildew, came from rye.

The research team found that the virus resistance is not temperature sensitive. "The current resistant gene used in wheat breaks down at temperatures above 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit, but this one is still resistant up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit," Li explained. Further tests showed that the hybrid and sea wheatgrass tolerate excess water. Sea wheatgrass also has a solid stem, which helps it resist the sawfly, a pest that lays its eggs in the hollow wheat stem and makes the wheat break.

For more details, read the article in the SDSU News Center.