Crop Biotech Update

Gene Discovery Set to Improve Wheat Yields and Increase Protein Content by Up to 25%

May 18, 2022
The new wheat line growing in the field. The wheat on the right has the extra flower-bearing spikelets artificially highlighted in pink to show their extent. Photo Source: The University of Adelaide

An international team of researchers from Australia's University of Adelaide and the UK's John Innes Centre has identified a gene that improves wheat yield, which can also lead to increasing the crop's protein content by up to 25 percent.

According to Dr. Scott Boden from the University of Adelaide's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, little is known about the mechanism behind the drivers of yields and protein content in wheat production. The discovery of the gene that controls the two factors has the potential to generate new wheat varieties with higher grain quality. “The genetic variation we identified provides a 15-25 percent increase in protein content for plants grown in the field. These varieties also produce extra spikelets, known as paired spikelets,” said Dr. Boden.

The researchers expect that the new wheat varieties will be available to breeders in 2–3 years' time, which could then translate to benefits for farmers in 7–10 years' time.

For more details, read the team's findings in Science Advances, or the news article in The University of Adelaide Newsroom.

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