Clone of magic wheat disease-resistance gene sheds light on new defense mechanism

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By Mike Listman/CIMMYT

EL BATAN, Mexico (November 13, 2015)- Scientists have sequenced and described a gene that can help wheat to resist four serious fungal diseases, potentially saving billions of dollars in yearly grain


A resistant wheat line surrounded by susceptible lines infected by rust disease (photo: CIMMYT/Julio Huerta).

losses and reducing the need for farmers to use costly fungicides, once the gene is bred into high-yielding varieties.

A global research team isolated the wheat gene Lr67, revealing how it hampers fungal pathogen growth through a novel mechanism.

The study, which was published in Nature Genetics on 9 November, involved scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agriculture, and Livestock Research (INIFAP), the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and scientists from Australia, including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Newcastle, and the University of Sydney.

According to Ravi Singh, CIMMYT distinguished scientist, wheat breeder, and co-author of the new study, Lr67 belongs to a group of three currently-known “magic” genes that help wheat to resist all three wheat rusts and powdery mildew, a disease that attacks wheat in humid temperate regions. The genes act in different ways but all slow — rather than totally stopping — disease development. When combined with other such partial resistance genes through breeding, they provide a strong, longer-lasting protection for plants, boosting food security.

To read more about Lr67‘s cloning and resistance type, click here.

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Comments (2)

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    Mohamed Abdallah Gad


    Really it may be success but what is about the stability


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    Mike Listman


    Dear Mohamed:

    Thanks for your comment. Dr. Ravi Singh, CIMMYT wheat scientist and co-author of this study, has said the following in reply to your query:

    “As described in this note and actual publication, this gene only confers partial resistance. To achieve a high level of resistance, Lr67/Yr46 need to be combined with other slow rusting APR genes as is in the case of wheat variety Sujata (Lan et al. Theor Appl Genet. 2015. 128:549–561, DOI 10.1007/s00122-015-2454-8). Sujata not only shows a high resistance level but has remained resistant for a long time.”
    Best regards.


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