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Virginia Tech helping to develop higher quality, disease-resistant wheat varieties

Researchers at Virginia Tech's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences are part of consortium of public wheat breeders and scientists that have been awarded $5 million from the USDA to enable routine use of modern breeding technologies to produce higher quality, disease-resistant wheat.

"For the past two decades, an intensive amount of molecular research has been conducted wherein chromosome specific DNA sequences or markers have been used to identify genes controlling traits of economic importance in wheat varieties. This integrated project will enable us to demonstrate that DNA markers associated with such traits can be used on a routine basis to develop superior wheat varieties," said Carl Griffey, professor of crop and soil environmental sciences at Virginia Tech and consortium project coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic region. "These technologies will accelerate development of U.S. varieties that are durable to plant diseases, more productive, and of better end use quality, which are all essential for increasing competitiveness of U.S. wheat in global markets."

Griffey, along with other researchers from Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina, will be specifically looking at wheat traits of critical importance in the Mid-Atlantic region where diseases such as powdery mildew, leaf rust, stripe rust, and fusarium head blight result in significant losses in yield and quality each year. For example, researchers will be identifying and using DNA markers to select varieties possessing genes conferring durable resistant to powdery mildew, which causes annual crop loss of 10 to 30 percent in the Mid-Atlantic region. Researchers also will be identifying genes that confer superior milling and baking qualities.

The new technology implemented in this project is called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS). MAS involves the direct use of molecular markers that are located in the same chromosome region as the trait of interest to select for genes c
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Source:Virginia Tech


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