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Genetics: Wheat Quality Can Be Improved Through New Method

First Posted: Oct 08, 2015 11:25 AM EDT

Wheat scientists at Kansas State University have developed a new method of improving wheat varieties and quality, according to a new study.

"What we did is develop a strategy that can be used as a model to explore genomic resources for gene mining from distant wild relatives of wheat," said Vijay Tiwari, the study's lead author and research associate in the plant pathology department.

The scientists have completed the first part of a chromosome in a tertiary gene pool study, (a tertiary gene pool in wheat refers to distant relatives of current varieties) and they consider it to be a breakthrough in exploring wheat wild relatives for future crop improvement, according to a news release.

By having a complete understanding of the tertiary gene makeup, wheat breeders will be able to develop new varieties of wheat, which will be resistant to diseases, heat and drought.

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

The researchers studied the gene composition and the gene content in a wild wheat relative, and then they examined its similarities to wheat. They have since developed a technique which will allow them to grow various wheat varieties.

The findings will also be useful in enabling wheat to be resilient to wheat rust, which has been devastating for wheat farmers since Roman times, according to Tiwari.

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