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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

New Wheat Gene Info Could Lead to More Adaptable Varieties

Scientists at the University of California-Davis discovered a fourth gene that controls the process of vernalization, or how wheat plant flowers after a freeze – a discovery that could lead to the development of new, more adaptable varieties in the future.

In a recently published study in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, researchers explain that the new gene, called VRN-D4, plays a role in the vernalization process, which is key to the development of the cold-sensitive flowering parts of winter wheat plants that are planted in the fall and harvested in early summer.

Vernalization controls flowering timing, which is critical to a plant’s reproductive cycle and a major factor to reaching maximum grain production. Through the manipulation of the VRN-D4 gene, and the other three known vernalization-controlling genes, researchers can alter flowering times, enabling them to create varieties of wheat that are better suited to specific climates.

The VRN-D4 gene and the other three vernalization genes can be used by plant breeders to modify vernalization requirements as they work to develop wheat varieties that are better adapted to different regions or changing environments," said Nestor Kippes, first author of the study, and doctoral candidate at the Dubcovsky Lab at UC Davis.

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