A major breakthrough in the cloning of a resistance gene to eliminate wheat scab — a widespread disease responsible for drastic reductions in crop yield as well as millions of dollars in annual losses worldwide — has been achieved by a multi-institutional team of researchers including Nidhi Rawat, an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Michael O. Pumphrey, associate professor in Washington State University’s Crop and Soil Sciences Department….
This discovery has broad implications for the future as a promising source of resistance to not only wheat scab, but a variety of similar host plants affected by the fungal pathogen known as Fusarium graminearum.
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Until now, nothing was known about the Fhb1 gene and its ability to provide broad-spectrum resistance. The multi-University team … used sophisticated wheat genome sequencing techniques to isolate the gene. …. The team recently published their work in Nature Genetics.
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Moving forward, Rawat and her colleagues will work towards utilizing Fhb1 for solving a multitude of diseases caused by the pathogen. Research will involve optimizing the transfer of this resistance to other crops infected by Fusarium species through breeding, transgenic, cis-genic, and genome editing techniques.
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