Friday, March 1, 2019

Genes giving Crops Renewed Resistance to Disease

In an article posted on Science Daily entitled "Harvesting wild genes gives crops renewed resistance to disease", it describes how a group of scientists have "pioneered" a new and efficient method to transfer disease resistance genes from wild plants into domestic crops; increasing global food supply. This new method is called AgRenSeq developed by researchers at the John Innes Centre in Britain along with colleagues in Australia and the US. This method combines DNA sequencing with bioinformatics that is able to rapidly discover resistance genes from a genetically diverse panel of wild crop relatives. It has created a library of disease resistant genes enabling researchers to scan that library and find functional resistance genes.

This new gene helps plants fight against pathogens that currently threaten popular food crops including rice and wheat. These researchers claim how reintroducing disease resistance genes from wild relatives is an economically and environmentally sustainable way to breed resilient crops. AgRenSeq has successfully been trailed in a wild relative of wheat and is now being used to prepare the way for other crops with wild relatives like soybeans, potato and cocoa.

Photo credit to University of Sydney and Science Direct Article

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