A genetic mutation arising 8,000 to 10,000 years
ago, the Q gene controls many traits, including hullless grains, which enabled
early farmers to easily harvest the crop. Click the image for more
information about it.
ARS Awards Scientist for Wheat Gene Proposal
By Jan Suszkiw
October 26, 2005
Proposed research to decipher a gene
leading to humankinds domestication of wheat has won the
Agricultural Research Service's T.W.
Edminster Research Associate Award for 2006.
ARS plant geneticist
D. Faris won the award for his proposal to study the super
Q gene. In cultivated wheat, Triticum aestivum, the Q gene is
something of a master switch that regulates many different traits, most notably
the "naked (hulless) grain characteristic. Born of a genetic
mutation occurring 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, such grain significantly advanced
the way in which early farmers threshed their wheat.
Faris' was the top-ranked proposal for the 2006 ARS Postdoctoral Research
Associate Program. The program enables postdocs to work closely with an
experienced researcher in their field of interest, as well as conduct
high-priority research on pressing agricultural issues.
Faris will receive $120,000 in funding for a two-year postdoc assignment to
identify genes regulated by the Q gene in wheat. The assignment will
also examine how the Q gene interacts with other genes at the
molecular level. Such work will broaden science's understanding of the
functional processes associated with wheat and set the stage for novel ways of
improving its productivity, according to Faris, with ARS'
River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D.
In 2003, he led a team at the Fargo lab in using "chromosome
walking" to identify the Q gene. This method involved using large
fragments of cloned wheat DNA to bridge gaps between molecular markers residing
within the crop's 21 chromosome pairs. The team then analyzed nucleotide
sequences between the markers in order to pinpoint the Q gene and its
locale on chromosome 5AL.
From 450 submitted proposals for postdoctoral studies, ARS officials
selected 50 for funding. Besides Faris winning proposal, others include
use of a pig-based model for studying food allergens, use of bacteriophages in
aquaculture, methods for remotely detecting fire ants in sod-production areas,
and methods for incorporating soluble fiber into foods to prevent insulin
resistance and obesity.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.