Crop Biotech Update

Found: Gene that Confers Resistance to Septoria

February 14, 2018

Researchers have, for the first time, isolated a gene that will give wheat a natural resistance to Septoria tritici blotch (STB, or Septoria). Septoria is the main leaf disease of wheat in temperate regions and a major threat for wheat production globally, capable of halving crop yields. The disease is caused by the fungal pathogen Zymoseptoria tritici.

The gene, called Stb6, has been known for 20 years, but its mapping and isolation took five years to complete by a research team led by Kostya Kanyuka at Rothamsted Research and Cyrille Saintenac at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).

Kanyuka said that the Stb6 gene is effective against only a fraction of fungal strains, specifically those that secrete a matching protein, called AvrStb6. The Stb6 protein somehow recognizes this fungal protein, which leads to activation of the defense response in wheat.

For more information about this research, read the Rothamsted Research News.