The global wheat industry sometimes loses as much as $1 billion a year because prolonged rainfall and high humidity contribute to grains germinating before they are fully mature. The result is both a lower yield of wheat and grains of inferior quality.
This phenomenon, known as pre-harvest sprouting or PHS, has such important economic repercussions for farmers around the world that scientists have been working on finding a solution to the problem for at least a couple of decades. Their focus has been on genetic factors, and on the interaction between genotypes and the environment as they have tried to breed wheat that is resistant to PHS, but with little success so far.
But now, findings by a McGill team suggest that the solution may lie not with genetics alone, but rather with a combination of genetic and epigenetic factors. The team, led by Prof. Jaswinder Singh of McGill’s Department of Plant Science, has identified a key gene that acts as a switch to determine how a particular plant will respond to high humidity and excess rainfall by either germinating early (PHS) or not. This switch is to be found in a key gene, ARGONAUTE4_9, in the “RNA dependent DNA Methylation” pathway (RdDM).
“The complex RdDM machinery is composed of several proteins that guide the genome in response to growth, developmental and stress signals. It’s a bit like the plant’s brain,” says Singh. “Although in the past scientists have identified it as the pathway that regulates the way a variety of genes are expressed, until now no one had made the link with PHS.”
The McGill team made the discovery by using a variety of genomic and molecular tools to identify specific ARGONAUTE4_¬9 genes, and then compare the way that these genes are expressed in PHS resistant versus PHS susceptible varieties of wheat.
“This discovery is important for other cereals like barley as well as for wheat,” said Surinder Singh, a Ph.D. student and one of the authors of this study, currently working in Professor Singh’s laboratory. “This means that not only should we be able to avoid the ugly bread and sticky crumbs produced by PHS wheat in future, we should also end up with better beer. “
The research opens up a whole new area of exploration for scientists as they try to increase the yields of wheat and decrease losses due to excessively humid conditions. It should also save farmers and governments around the world significant amounts of money in the future.
The study, “Polymorphic homoeolog of key gene of RdDM pathway, ARGONAUTE4_¬9 class is associated with Pre-harvest Sprouting in wheat (Triticum aestivum L.)” was just published in the journal “PLOS ONE”. To read the full article: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0077009
The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).
To contact the researcher directly: Jaswinder.firstname.lastname@example.org
Katherine Gombay | Newswise
Climate change, population growth may lead to open ocean aquaculture
05.10.2017 | Oregon State University
New machine evaluates soybean at harvest for quality
04.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research