Gene-editing discovery yields high promise for wheat fertility in a changing climate
A gene which has profound effects on the production of seeds has been
identified by researchers from the John Innes Centre.
Gene-editing techniques helped to identify and explain the key gene,
ZIP4, in wheat which is responsible for maintaining 50% of yield in this
The discovery presents an exciting new opportunity to breed high-yield,
elite wheat varieties using a novel mutation of the gene, while also
allowing the introduction of critically important traits such as heat
resilience and disease resistance.
In the study, which appears in/Nature Scientific Reports/, Professor
Graham Moore‚??s research group took advantage of recent developments in
wheat research technology to explain genetic elements which have puzzled
scientists for more than 60 years.
‚??Our study describes the identification of a gene, ZIP4 and its
phenotype, responsible for the preservation of 50% grain in wheat. We
can now aim to identify variants of the gene with effects that give
wheat yield resilience to climate change,‚?Ě said Professor Moore.
Developing wheat that is resilient to climate change will help to secure
a crop which 2.5 billion people are dependent on.
Many plant species including most flowering plants are polyploid,
meaning they have multiple genomes. The polyploid wheat genome evolved
as a combination of wild grasses which cross-fertilised, some 10,000
years ago in the Middle East.
During this process, known as polyploidisation, fertility is preserved
via mechanisms which have evolved to control the behaviour of these
multiple genomes during meiosis, the sexual reproduction phase inside cells.
During wheat polyploidisation, the major meiotic gene/ZIP4/duplicated
from chromosome 3 into chromosome 5B.
Gene-editing discovery yields high promise for wheat fertility in a
changing climate (jic.ac.uk)