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Crop Biotech Update

Breakthrough Research Finds Genes to Boost Hybrid Wheat Breeding

February 17, 2021

A study conducted by scientists and expert plant breeders from The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Limagrain has identified genes that will enable breeding wheat crops with higher yields and better disease and environmental tolerance.

The study identified three genes, Rf1, Rf3, and orf279 that will enable large-scale wheat breeding. Dr. Joanna Melonek, from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and UWA's School of Molecular Sciences, said the scientists found two Restorer of fertility (Rf) genes — Rf1 and Rf3 — responsible for reversing sterility in wheat by switching on pollen production. The identification of Rf genes was key to enabling the faster development of wheat lines that could be used in crosses to produce hybrid varieties.

In a surprising finding, they also identified orf279 as the gene responsible for switching off pollen production in wheat and causing sterility. Orf279 has been previously overlooked because a different gene had widely been believed to be the cause of wheat sterility.

For more details, read the article on the UWA website.

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