INT – STEM RUST RESISTANCE GENE DISCOVERY
19 August 2013. Source: University of California, Davis
A new gene that will equip wheat plants to resist the deadly stem rust disease has been discovered by an international team that includes plant scientists from Australia, United States, and China
The research team, which included co-author Jan Dvorak, a professor and wheat geneticist at UC Davis, succeeded in cloning the Sr33 gene, known to exist in Aegilops tauschii, a wild relative of common bread wheat.
“We are hopeful that the Sr33 gene and the Sr35 gene, which our colleagues at UC Davis helped to isolate, can be ‘pyramided,’ or combined, to develop wheat varieties with robust and lasting resistance to wheat stem rust disease,” Dvorak said.
The discovery of genes that confer resistance to wheat stem rust disease is vitally important for global food security, as a new, highly aggressive race of the fungus that causes wheat stem rust appeared about a decade ago in Africa and has been spreading from there. That new UG99 race, which causes rust-colored bumps to form on the stems and leaves of the wheat plants, threatens global wheat grain production.
Identification and cloning of resistance genes is expected to enable plant breeders to use traditional breeding techniques to develop new wheat varieties that will be resistant to the new strain of wheat stem rust disease, before it grows into a global pandemic.
Lead author on this study was Evans Lagudah from CSIRO Plant Industry.