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New Wheat Variety Has Potential to Strengthen Global Food Security

An international scientific collaboration has developed a new wheat variety that is resistant to Puccinia graminis, or stem rust - a virulent fungal disease that is capable of destroying a crop of wheat in a matter of weeks.

Stem rust pandemics date back more than 2,000 years, according to a study partially funded by the 2Blades Foundation and published in Nature Biotechnology. Throughout history, the most effective means of controlling stem rust has been through genetic resistance. A successful solution was developed in the 1960s by Norman Borlaug’s breakthrough Green Revolution. However, stem rust has evolved to overcome that resistance and is once again threatening crops.

But not for long. A team led by Dr. Mick Ayliffe at the Canberra lab of Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, and including scientists from the University of Minnesota, Aarhus University, The John Innes Centre in the UK, the USDA, and Xinjiang University, have used genetic technology to insert a “stack” of five rust-resistant genes into a single location in the genome of a common wheat variety to create a new variety with exceptional resistance.

This same technology could be used to create wheat varieties resistant to stripe and leaf rust diseases that could be considered non GMO in some countries.


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