Crop Biotech Update

Diverse Wheat Tapped for Antifungal Genes

April 8, 2010

Narrowing of resistance source against Fusarium graminearum is a risky breeding strategy which the USDA Agricultural Research Service's hard Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit based at Manhattan, Kansas is hoping to address. The group led by plant molecular geneticist Guihua Bai and colleagues have started to identify new sources of resistance from exotic wheat lines including old "landrace" populations collected from China, Korea and Japan. From among a total of 87 Asian accessions tested in greenhouse trials, 26 showed high levels of FHB resistance and 15 accessions had exceptionally low levels of the fungal toxin deoxynivalenol – a compound produced by the fungus during disease development.

In addition, six of the accessions showed three different types of FHB-resistance genes unrelated to Sumai 3 – a resistant germplasm currently used in wheat FHB-resistance breeding in the US. These lines could serve as sources of resistance for breeding US wheat varieties. The research team is using genomic tools to speed identification of other novel resistant gene sources and top-performing offspring of crosses between resistant germplasm and elite commercial varieties.

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