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Crop Biotech Update

Eyespot Breakthrough Welcomed

December 3, 2010

Wheat breeders in the UK have been studying how to control the eyespot disease caused by two different, co-existing fungal species, Oculimacula yallundae and Oculimacula acuformis in the crop. Resistance to the disease has always been based on the presence of Pch2 gene but it has been less effective against O. yallundae.

In a research study by Paul Nicholson of the John Innes Centre, a new resistant gene that is effective against both eyespot pathogens has been identified in the French wheat variety Cappelle Desprez. The variety which is also the source of Pch2 gene has been crossed with several commercial varieties and some progenies showed partial protection.

The report published in the Theoretical and Applied Genetics describe the identification of this new gene that is present in Cappelle Desprez but on a different chromosome than Pch2. The gene confers significant resistance to both eyespot pathogens at seedling and adult stage.

The original news article can be seen at http://www.jic.ac.uk/corporate/media-and-public/current-releases/101129eyespotbreakthrough.html