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Greatest thing since sliced bread: New data offer important clues toward improving wheat yields
Date:3/10/2009

increase wheat yield at the rate of 2 percent per year per unit area," said Bikram S. Gill of Kansas State University, and the senior scientist involved in the study. "Wheat is a human staple that holds the key for better quality of life for billions."

To conduct this analysis, the authors attempted to recreate the evolutionary events leading to the spontaneous origin of bread wheat in nature. To do this, they crossed a diploid and tetraploid progenitor species and formed a synthetic strain of wheat in the laboratory. Then they simultaneously measured genetic expression of thousands of genes in the parent strains and the synthetic wheat offspring using a gene chip. The data then was used to test the commonly held notion that all wheat characteristics are simply different genes expressing themselves rather than some characteristics coming from a complex series of gene interactions.

"This paper is a beautiful example of yet another source of genetic variation that has led to the astounding diversity of life," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "The authors show that our ancestors, in their quest to feed themselves, exploited variation in the expression of genes in hybrid wheat. The need to foster sustainable agriculture remains unabated, and the authors here make an important contribution toward understanding a crop critical to our existence. This research gives entirely new meaning to 'wonder bread.'"


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Contact: Tracey DePellegrin Connelly
td2p@andrew.cmu.edu
412-268-1812
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Source:Eurekalert

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