Wheat gene discovery could give breeders new tool to boost crop yields

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Paired spikelets in wheat Credit CSIRO WS
Floral architecture in wheat. Highlighted in purple are the additional spikelets that form part of the paired spikelets. (Image credit: CSIRO)

A new study has isolated a gene controlling shape and size of spikelets in wheat in a breakthrough which could help breeders deliver yield increases in one of the world’s most important crops. 

The team from the John Innes Centre say the underlying genetic mechanism they have found is also relevant to inflorescence (floral) architecture in a number of other major cereals including corn, barley and rice. 

The genetic identification of an agronomically-relevant trait represents a significant milestone in research on wheat; a crop with a notoriously complex genome.  

The findings, published today in the journal The Plant Cell, give breeders a new tool to accelerate the global quest to improve wheat. The study also highlights a range of next generation techniques available for fundamental research into wheatthe world’s most abundantly produced crop. 

The study revealed that a gene called TEOSINTE BRANCHED1 (TB1) regulates wheat inflorescence architecture, promoting paired spikelets via a mechanism which delays flowering and reduces the expression of genes that control the development of lateral branches called spikelets. 

Editor’s note: Read the full study

Read full, original post: Wheat research discovery yields genetic secrets that could shape future crops

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