Researchers at Australia's University of Adelaide, in collaboration with
US-based company DuPont Pioneer, have identified the wheat gene that, when
turned off, eliminates self-pollination but still allows cross-pollination -
opening the way for breeding high-yielding hybrid wheats.
The researchers say the discovery and the associated breeding technology
have the potential to radically change the way wheat is bred. Dr. Ryan
Whitford, Hybrid Wheat Program Leader at the University of Adelaide's School
of Agriculture, Food and Wine said that wheat is the world's most widely
grown crop, delivering around 20% of total food calories and protein to the
world's population. He said that wheat production needs to increase by 60%
in 2050 to meet the increased demand from predicted population growth.
"The pollination gene is 'biologically contained' to the breeding process
and does not make its way past the grandparent stage in producing the
end-user hybrid seed," says Dr. Marc Albertsen, Research Director, DuPont