Kansas State University wheat scientists, in cooperation with scientists from Saudi Arabia and the Czech Republic, are calling their study of wild wheat genes “a breakthrough.” The research is the first completed study of a chromosome in a tertiary gene pool. The study was published in The Plant Journal on Sept. 27
“What we did is develop a strategy that can be used as a model to explore genomic resources for gene mining from distant wild relatives of wheat,” said Vijay Tiwari, research associate in the plant pathology department and the study’s lead author.
A tertiary gene pool in wheat refers to distant relatives of current varieties. Tiwari said having a complete understanding of the tertiary gene makeup helps wheat breeders develop new varieties that are resistant to disease and more tolerant of heat and drought.
In the study, researchers used a flow sorter to dissect a single chromosome from the larger genome in a wild wheat relative. Tiwari said the scientists then studied the gene composition and developed genomic resources and markers in the wild relative for gene mining and transfer to wheat.
“It’s interesting to see how similar wild relatives are to wheat in terms of gene content and gene composition,” Tiwari said.
The 5M chromosome that was studied has important implications for breeding resistance to wheat rust.