Purdue researcher Christie Williams says the discovery of a gene in wheat plants like the ones she holds in her lab may help the plant resist damage from the tiny Hessian flies hovering above the plants. (Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)
This photo, with common keys as a comparison, shows the actual size of Hessian flies. (Agricultural Communications photo/Tom Campbell)
The Hessian fly changes wheat growth by injecting poisons into the plants, but a newly discovered resistance gene that can kill the insect may add a new defensive weapon for the grain crop.
Using the new gene in combination with other genes is expected to extend resistance time to the most economically damaging insect of wheat by as much as six times. Scientists from Purdue University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture—Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) mapped the new gene and two closely linked markers, or bits of DNA, that indicate its presence in soft red winter wheat.
Results of the study are published in this month’s issue of the journal Theoretical and Applied Genetics.
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