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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Wheat Researchers Discover New Genetic Markers that Could Improve Crop

Wheat researchers at Kansas State University have discovered what they term as a ‘breakthrough in exploring wheat wild relatives’, after completing the first study of a chromosome in the tertiary gene pool.

Explained in the study, Exploring the tertiary gene pool of bread wheat: sequence assembly and analysis of chromosome 5M of Aegilops geniculate, which was published in The Plant Journal on September 27, the team has successfully established a model that can be utilized to discover genomic resources in distant (or tertiary) relatives of current varieties of wheat.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the tertiary gene pool, would give wheat breeders extra tools to develop new wheat varieties that are more resistant to heat, drought, and disease.

"Basically we've worked a lot on the primary gene pool of wheat and we have expanded our primary gene pool a lot," said Vijay Tiwari, the study’s lead author. "But we are limited on what we can do because of a lack of genomic resources for distant wild relatives.

The team used a flow sorter to dissect a single chromosome from a distant, wild wheat relative, enabling the team to study the gene composition and to develop markers within the genomic makeup of the wild relative for the mining of traits that can be crossed with common wheat varieties.

The particular chromosome studied, called 5M from Aegilops geniculate, has proven to have three agronomic genes that will be useful in breeding wheat varieties that will be more resistant to wheat rust, a disease that farmers have been battling since the Roman era.

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