Wheat Research Provides Improved Resistance to Viruses

We’d probably have fewer stressed farmers, if farmers could plant wheat without the constant worry of Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus (WSMV) spreading when the temperatures rise. There would be less money going toward fungicides, yields would be higher. That’s exactly what Mohammed Asif, Heartland Plant Innovations (HPI), and Guorong Zhang, Kansas State University wheat breeder, are trying to accomplish with the research they are conducting.

Asif said, “This project will give rise to wheat varieties that will minimize the yield losses due to Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus and Triticum Mosaic Virus.”

Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus affects many Kansas wheat farmers. In a single field, the virus can cause up to a 15% yield loss and has an average state wide impact of 2% yield loss. The impact on yield depends on two things; the weather, and if the wheat variety is resistant to WSMV.

To solve the issue, there are three genes in wheat being researched. The first is WSM1, a gene which provides resistance in cooler weather, ranging from 64-69 degrees F. WSM1 is also resistant to Triticum Mosaic Virus, another virus that affects wheat. Then there is WSM2, which also prefers cooler weather at the same range as WSM1, but is only resistant to the Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus. And lastly there is WSM3, a gene which thrives in warmer weather, providing resistance to Wheat Streak Mosaic Virus at 75 degrees F, while also being resistant to Triticum Mosaic Virus at around 64 degrees F.

The mission of the research is to transfer the WSM3 gene into other varieties so they will be able to have resistance to both viruses at lower and higher temperatures. Asif says once this research is complete it will lower yield losses, a major benefit for the Kansas farmer.

The research taking place has two main objectives. The first is pairing genes together in a variety or a line, and seeing a combination of the genes mixed together. This means pairing WSM1 with WSM2, WSM2 with WSM3 and WSM3 with WSM1. Once they evaluate these lines, HPI will give them to Zhang where he will plant them in the field to study the plant's response to WSMV.

The second objective is to transfer WSM3 into ten different wheat varieties. HPI will then produce double haploid lines, a breeding technique that accelerates the traditional wheat breeding process. By transferring WSM3 into these lines, Asif aims to develop varieties with expanded temperature hardiness and resistance to WSMV and the Triticum Mosaic Virus.

Source: http://kswheat.com/
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