Wheat CAP update: Wheat Gene for resistance to stripe rust cloned and deployed
An international team of researchers, led by Dr. J. Dubcovsky at the University of California, Davis, supported by USDA-NIFA and BARD grants has identified a gene that protects wheat varieties from stripe rust, a disease that causes severe crop losses in most wheat-growing regions. Findings of the study were published in the online version of the journal Science (Feb. 19).
Historically, partial resistance genes have been more durable than race specific genes and provide resistance against a broader spectrum of races. Yr36 belongs to the class of partial resistance genes and is the first of this class cloned in wheat. When Yr36 is combined with other partial resistance genes it provides adequate levels of protection. Yr36 revealed a completely novel gene architecture that has not been found so far in any other organisms.
Virulent forms of the fungus responsible for stripe rust have appeared in the US at the beginning of this decade, overcoming known disease-resistance genes in wheat and have been causing average losses of 23 million bushels per year. The newly identified Yr36 resistance gene was discovered in wild wheat and was found to be absent from modern wheat varieties used for making bread and pasta. With the support of the WheatCAP project wheat breeding programs are using marker assisted selection to accelerate the deployment of Yr36 in commercial varieties. Three Yr36 varieties are already commercially available to the US wheat growers (Lassik, Farnum, & Westmore).
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