A multi-University team of researchers achieved a major breakthrough in
cloning a resistance gene to eliminate wheat scab, also known as Fusarium
head blight. Wheat scab is a widespread disease responsible for drastic
reductions in crop yield as well as millions of dollars in annual losses
The researchers from University of Maryland, Washington State University,
Kansas State University, and University of Minnesota used sophisticated
wheat genome sequencing techniques to isolate the Fhb1 gene.
Dr. Nidhi Rawat, assistant professor in the University of Maryland's College
of Agriculture and Natural Resources said, "Fhb1 is very special, as only a
few broad-spectrum resistance genes have been cloned so far that provide
multi-pathogen resistance. The durability and applicability of Fhb1 puts it
in a category all to itself and we must learn how to harness it
appropriately." Future research, said Dr. Rawat, will involve optimizing the
transfer of this resistance to other crops infected by Fusarium species
through breeding, transgenic, cis-genic, and genome editing techniques.