Faster Way to
By David Elstein
January 16, 2002
Molecular markers that can speed up
wheat breeding to improve quality and disease resistance traits have been found
by Agricultural Research Service
The long-term goal of research geneticist Gina L. Brown-Guedira and
molecular biologist John P. Fellers is to find molecular markers that can be
used to incorporate longer-lasting resistance to major wheat diseases including
leaf rust, Karnal bunt fungus and fusarium. Brown-Guedira and Fellers work at
the ARS Plant Science and Entomology Research Unit in Manhattan, Kan.
The researchers believe they will be able to preserve the quality and yield
of wheat while improving its resistance to insects and diseases. They are
seeking a way to identify wheat that is resistant to pathogens.
The markers theyve developed have already yielded some positive
results. The scientists were able to identify a molecular marker for a gene
that holds the information for nearly 25 percent of the resistance to Karnal
bunt fungus. Quarantined by 72 countries, the Karnal bunt fungus lowers the
quality of flour in addition to causing yield losses.
Researchers from around the world have identified markers for several genes
in wheat that will be useful in wheat breeding programs. These include
disease-resistance genes, insect-resistance genes, and quality and
environmental stress genes.
For a more detailed story on this research, see this months issue of
Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency.