Biotech Updates

Breeding Wheat for Blight Resistance

June 24, 2011

In efforts to combat the devastating Fusarium head blight of wheat, a team of scientists led by Jose Costa of the US Department of Agriculture and composed of scientists from the University of Maryland, University of Kentucky, North Carolina State, and Virginia Tech conducted marker assisted breeding on the adapted red winter wheat cultivar McCormick. Resistance genes against the disease were obtained from three Chinese wheat cultivars which are not adapted to the US mid-Atlantic region.

Eight wheat lines were obtained and tested for blight resistance over two years in a greenhouse and three field evaluations. A wheat line was identified to express two specific traits showing highest resistance and lowest toxin content in all four evaluations. The report published in the journal Crop Science shows that the combination of these two genes could improve the resistance of soft red winter wheat to Fusarium head blight.

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