Researchers from South Dakota State University (SDSU) hope to transfer
resistance to wheat streak mosaic virus to bread wheat from a distant
relative, sea wheatgrass.
Associate Professor Wanlong Li of the Department of Biology and Microbiology
said, "In wheat breeding, we have a lot of very important genes transferred
from relatives to wheat varieties." For instance, resistance to leaf rust,
stem rust and yellow rust, as well as powdery mildew, came from rye.
The research team found that the virus resistance is not temperature
sensitive. "The current resistant gene used in wheat breaks down at
temperatures above 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit, but this one is still resistant
up to 82 degrees Fahrenheit," Li explained. Further tests showed that the
hybrid and sea wheatgrass tolerate excess water. Sea wheatgrass also has a
solid stem, which helps it resist the sawfly, a pest that lays its eggs in
the hollow wheat stem and makes the wheat break.