Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gene Discovery May Halt Wheat Epidemic

Stem rust

In a study published by the University of California in Science Daily, a new gene was discovered in a wheat plant that enables resistance to a new strain of stem rust, a type of fungal infection in wheat plants. The strain of stem rust, Ug99, has been infecting wheat plants across Africa and Asia, but has a global impact. A wheat shortage threatens food security worldwide, and with approximately 90% of global wheat plants being susceptible to Ug99, this new fungus is a crisis.

This new gene could provide a new level of protection against this fungus. New strains of wheat plants can be grown next season that are resistant to the fungus, and solving the crisis. Although a new GMO is a great solution to this problem today, like many diseases, a simple mutation in Ug99 could render the resistance gene useless. I think it is great that we are solving these disease problems in our food supply, however when can we begin to find long term solutions that will work regardless of the diseases changing in the future?

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