Biotech Updates

Scientists Identify Stem Rust-resistant Wheat Landraces

October 28, 2011

Experts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture have identified several stem rust resistant wheat varieties and are retesting them to verify their resistance. Their research is highly important because stem rust is present in all areas where wheat is planted. Losses due to this pest could reach up to 70 percent.

The research team working on this project is headed by plant pathologist Mike Bonman of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). They screened more than 3,000 wheat landraces against new races of the stem rust pathogen found in wheat fields in Kenya. Resistant landraces are being crossed with susceptible varieties of wheat to determine the genes causing the resistance.

The ultimate objective of the research team is to find new genes for resistance to rust strain Ug99 because that strain has the ability to fight several resistance gene that have been employed in crops for the last 50 years. Their success in this study would also mean helping African growers supress disease and reduce damage caused by the pest.

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